It All Adds Up
A domestic violence conviction will cost you. Not only will you face court-imposed penalties as part of your sentence or a condition of your probation, you will have to deal with the aftermath of a stigmatized conviction for many years to come. To better understand the true costs of a California domestic violence conviction, let's first take a look at the financial consequences of such a conviction.
What It Will Cost You
To start, let's go over court-imposed fines for domestic violence convictions. The court can impose a fine of up to $6,000 for a corporal injury on a spouse conviction or up to $10,000 for a second conviction within seven years. If the court grants probation instead of jail time, it may order the defendant pay—in lieu of a fine—payments up to $5,000 to a battered women's shelter. The court can impose a fine of up to $2,000 for a spousal battery conviction or payments to a battered women's shelter up to $5,000 in lieu of a fine. You might not be ordered to pay the maximum fine, but they are typically a minimum of $500.
One of the lesser-known costs of a domestic violence conviction isn't a fine at all, but a fee. The court will put you on probation for three years at a minimum. California probation departments charge supervisory fees. These fees will vary based on the specific county supervising your probation and the type of conviction. For example, the fees may be higher for felony probation supervision or for supervision in certain counties. Paying supervisory fees cannot be a condition of your probation, which means you cannot go to jail for failure to pay. The probation department can, however, turn your unpaid fees into a civil judgment after you complete your probation, turning it into a debt. Even if your fees are $40/month—and they can go much higher—that amounts to $1,440 over the course of your probation.
Another hidden fee is the cost of enrollment in a California jail alternative program. If you are granted a jail alternative, such as work release, in lieu of jail time, it comes at a cost to you. Again, the fees vary based on the specific jail alternative program you enroll in, but you will generally pay per day or night served. For home detention/electronic monitoring, you may have to pay a monthly fee as well.
You will also have to enroll in a 52-week batterers' intervention program. You will have to pay for enrollment in the program. Program fees can vary but typically include an intake fee and a fee for each session, which is typically around $35. Over the course of your program, you could end up paying nearly $2,000 to take these classes. Some programs offer reduced cost on a sliding scale.
These costs add up. Some you can pay over time, and some are determined on a sliding scale. Others you will be asked to pay all at once. And these only cover the direct financial consequences of a domestic violence conviction. You could lose your firearm rights, child custody, or even be deported. All of these ramifications have untold costs as well. You may also be subject to a protective order, which can place restrictions on how you live your life.
In sum, prepare to face enormous financial costs for a domestic violence conviction. If you are concerned about these costs and are facing charges, you should consult with an experienced California domestic violence defense lawyer. If you think you can't afford a lawyer, make sure you consider first whether you can afford a conviction either. A good attorney can go over the penalties you could face based on the facts and circumstances of your case. Once you have that potential figure in mind, you can make an informed decision about how to handle your case.
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 MartensL[email protected] to discuss a possible plan of action for your case.