A batterer's treatment program may be used as a condition for probation or suspended sentence after someone is charged with domestic violence. Domestic violence is taken very seriously in California and criminal charges related to domestic violence are aggressively prosecuted. The penalties for a domestic violence (DV) conviction can go beyond just jail time and fines. Penalties may include payment to a women's shelter, gun rights restrictions, and DV school.
A domestic violence conviction can have consequences that last for years, including a permanent criminal record. Many people charged with DV take a plea deal instead of challenging the prosecutor. There are a number of ways to challenge DV charges in California and it is important to understand your rights before pleading guilty. Talk to an experienced local East Bay criminal defense lawyer for help with your case.
Domestic Violence School After a Conviction
Under California Penal Code Section 243(e), “If probation is granted, or the execution or imposition of the sentence is suspended, it shall be a condition thereof that the defendant participate in, for no less than one year, and successfully complete, a batterer's treatment program.”
A batterer's treatment program is sometimes referred to as “Domestic Violence School.” DV school consists of a 52-week program with weekly sessions. The program consists of classroom education, group counseling, and one-on-one counseling.
Under California Penal Code Section 1203.097, a batterer's program includes:
- Weekly sessions of a minimum of 2 hours class time duration, and
- Periodic progress reports by the program to the court every 3 months or less.
The sessions have to be attended consecutively unless an excused absence for good cause is granted for a maximum of 3 sessions during the entire program. The program has to be completed within 18 months, unless the court modifies the requirements.
Approved Treatment Programs in Alameda and Contra Costa Counties
Under the statute, if no batterer's treatment program is available, the court can designate “another appropriate counseling program.” However, for a conviction in Alameda County or Contra Costa County, there are a number of approved batterers' treatment programs available. Once the defendant has enrolled in a batterer's program, the defendant shall file proof of enrollment with the court within 30 days of conviction.
- Alameda County Probation Department Batterer's Treatment Programs List
- Contact the Contra Costa County Domestic Violence Unit of the probation department for a list of approved programs in the county.
Batterer's Treatment Program Violations or Extended Treatment
If the program finds the defendant is not suitable for that program, it will notify the court or probation department immediately. The defendant's case shall be calendared for a hearing or the defendant can be referred to an alternate batterer's program. The program shall also report any violation of the terms of the protective order or failure to comply with the program to the court.
The court can also require additional participation beyond the 52-weeks if it is recommended by the program. In deciding whether a participant would benefit from extended treatment, the court can consider a number of conditions, including:
- The defendant has been violence free for a minimum of six months.
- The defendant has cooperated and participated in the program.
- The defendant demonstrates an understanding of and practices positive conflict resolution skills.
- The defendant blames, degrades, or has committed acts that dehumanize the victim or puts at risk the victim's safety, including, but not limited to, molesting, stalking, striking, attacking, threatening, sexually assaulting, or battering the victim.
- The defendant demonstrates an understanding that the use of coercion or violent behavior to maintain dominance is unacceptable in an intimate relationship.
- The defendant has made threats to harm anyone in any manner.
- The defendant has complied with applicable requirements to receive alcohol counseling, drug counseling, or both.
- The defendant demonstrates acceptance of responsibility for the abusive behavior perpetrated against the victim.
Defense Lawyer for 243(e) PC Charges in Alameda and Contra Costa Counties
East Bay attorney Lynn Gorelick has more than 35 years of criminal defense experience and understands the consequences of pleading guilty to a crime without fighting the charges. Representing individuals in Alameda County and Contra Costa County, Lynn Gorelick is familiar with the local criminal laws, local officers, and the prosecutors involved. Contact East Bay criminal defense lawyer Lynn Gorelick today.
Batterer's Treatment Program Requirements
There are a number of requirements for DV programs, including the following components:
- Strategies to hold the defendant accountable for the violence in a relationship.
- The defendant is required to participate in ongoing same-gender group sessions.
- An initial intake that provides written definitions to the defendant of physical, emotional, sexual, economic, and verbal abuse, and the techniques for stopping these types of abuse.
- Procedures to inform the victim regarding the requirements for the defendant's participation in the intervention program as well as regarding available victim resources.
- A requirement to attend group sessions free of chemical influence.
- Educational programming that examines, at a minimum, gender roles, socialization, the nature of violence, the dynamics of power and control, and the effects of abuse on children and others.
- Exclusion of any couple counseling or family counseling, or both.
- Procedures that give the program the right to assess whether or not the defendant would benefit from the program and to refuse to enroll the defendant if it is determined that the defendant would not benefit from the program, so long as the refusal is not because of the defendant's inability to pay.
- Program staff who, to the extent possible, have specific knowledge regarding, but not limited to, spousal abuse, child abuse, sexual abuse, substance abuse, the dynamics of violence and abuse, the law, and procedures of the legal system.
- Program staff who are encouraged to utilize the expertise, training, and assistance of local domestic violence centers.
- Enter into a written agreement with the program, which shall include an outline of the contents of the program, the attendance requirements, the requirement to attend group sessions free of chemical influence, and a statement that the defendant may be removed from the program if it is determined that the defendant is not benefiting from the program or is disruptive to the program.
- Sign a confidentiality statement prohibiting disclosure of any information obtained through participating in the program or during group sessions regarding other participants in the program.
- Program content that provides cultural and ethnic sensitivity.
- Written referral from the court or probation department prior to permitting the defendant to enroll in the program. The written referral shall state the number of minimum sessions required by the court.
- Procedures for submitting to the probation department uniform written responses for enrollment, fee payment, compliance, final evaluation, and recommendation of continuation or termination.
- Sliding fee schedule based on the defendant's ability to pay.