California Domestic Violence Classes: Benefit or Burden?
The criminal courts order all those convicted of domestic violence offenses attend California domestic violence classes for 52 weeks. These classes are part of Batterers Intervention Programs, which aim to rehabilitate offenders. Far from a minor inconvenience, they are an intensive—and mandatory—condition of probation. Many argue the classes aren't effective. And considering the time and cost of attending the classes, this argument is worth taking a closer look.
Time Is Money
Batterer Intervention Programs require offenders attend a two-hour class once a week for 52 weeks. The offender is responsible for the cost of the classes. Not surprisingly, this is one of the most time-consuming requirements of a domestic violence offense. And in a world where time is money, it's also one of the most costly requirements of probation.
So Are They Necessary?
California's Batterer Intervention Program requirement is one of the longest-running in the U.S., enforced since 1994. These programs have been reviewed and studied to ensure their efficacy. Unfortunately, the findings do not suggest the classes significantly reduce domestic violence offenses in California or recidivism. However, they have shown to change offenders' outlook and attitude toward domestic violence, which has contributed to fewer rearrests.
Like many probation conditions, Batterer Intervention Program classes require serious commitment. Those who fail to fulfill this specific domestic violence probation requirement risk a longer probation period or worse. Thus, it's important to fully understand the consequences of a domestic violence conviction before pleading guilty. If convicted of a domestic violence offense in California, you could also face:
- Up to a year in jail
Misdemeanor domestic violence convictions are punishable by up to one year in a county jail. Felony domestic violence convictions are punishable by time in a state prison.
- A fine of up to $2,000
In lieu of a fine, you may be ordered to make payments to a battered women's shelter.
- Loss of gun rights
You also will be prohibited from possessing ammunition. In many cases, you will need to surrender your firearms to the police or sell them to a registered dealer.
- 3 years of probation
Probation comes with a number of requirements as well, including domestic violence classes.
- California protection order
Protection orders can vary widely in their conditions, but they typically restrict you in many ways. A protection order can even prohibit you from entering your own home.
Domestic violence is a deportable offense. If you are a non-citizen, you should speak with an attorney immediately. Sometimes attorneys are successful in reducing their client's charges to a non-domestic violence offense, thus preserving their immigration status.
- Potential drug testing, counseling, or anger management
These are common requirements for domestic violence sentencing depending on the specific facts of the case. Repeat offenders are likely to be ordered to go through treatment of some kind.
A domestic violence conviction also has the effect of stigmatizing you for the rest of your life. Many landlords refuse to rent to people with domestic violence convictions, and even employers may see a domestic violence conviction as a reason to not hire you. These two consequences alone are enough to make fighting your charges worth it.
Before you speak to anyone about your case, speak with an attorney. Calling an experienced Visalia domestic violence defense attorney should be the first thing you do after a domestic violence arrest. There is way too much at stake to take your chances. California domestic violence classes in Batterer Intervention Programs are just one of the penalties you'll face if convicted. And, sadly, too many people are wrongfully accused and convicted of domestic violence.
Working with an attorney can benefit you in many ways. A good attorney can evaluate your case and explain your chance of getting your case dismissed, working out a plea bargain, or prevailing at trial. Every case is different, however, so you need to discuss all the facts and circumstances of your offense with an attorney.
If you are in the Visalia, Hanford or Tulare area and are facing domestic violence charges, The Law Offices of Christopher Martens is here to help you. California domestic violence defense attorney Christopher Martens can help you face your charges so you can move on with your life. Attorney Martens has handled thousands of cases over a span of ten years of criminal defense practice and can fight hard for your rights. Contact attorney Christopher Martens for experienced criminal defense counsel today. Contact our office at 559-967-7386 or email us at [email protected] to discuss a possible plan of action for your case.