There are a lot of consequences of a conviction for domestic violence in California. In addition to possible jail time and fines, you can be subject to a protection order, have your guns taken away, and have to serve probation. As part of the probation program, you may be required to go through a batterer intervention program.
If you want to avoid having to go through domestic abuse school, the best way is to avoid a conviction in the first place. It can be tough to deal with a domestic violence case on your own. Contact an experienced East Bay criminal defense attorney who can help you fight the charges and avoid a criminal record.
What Is Batterer Treatment?
A batterer's intervention program is an educational and counseling program that is required as part of probation for domestic violence convictions in California. Domestic violence includes assault or battery on someone in a close relationship. In California, domestic violence could include violence against:
- Cohabitant (someone you are living with)
- Other parent of your child
- Former spouse
- Fiancé or fiancée
- Current dating or engagement relationship
- Previous dating or engagement relationship
How Long Is the Batterer's Intervention Program?
A domestic violence batterers program is generally a year-long program, which requires weekly attendance for 52 weeks. The program includes educational components, group counseling, and individual counseling. Classes are a minimum of 2 hours duration. At least every 3 months (or more often), the program will send a progress report to the court.
The defendant is not allowed to skip classes unless they are given an excused absence for good cause by the program. Generally, the program requires missing no more than 3 individual sessions for the 52 sessions. The program needs to be completed within 18 months.
If the program recommends, the defendant may be required to participate in additional sessions throughout the rest of their probation. Factors in considering additional sessions for the defendant after completing the 52-week program include:
- Period of being violence-free
- Cooperation and participation in the program
- Understanding of and practicing positive conflict resolution skills
- Blaming, degrading, or committing 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
- Understanding that the use of coercion or violent behavior to maintain dominance is unacceptable in an intimate relationship
- Any threats to harm anyone in any manner
- Compliance with alcohol or drug counseling
- Acceptance of responsibility for the abusive behavior perpetrated against the victim
If the program finds the defendant is unsuitable, the batterer's program is supposed to immediately contact the probation department or the court.
Domestic Violence Probation Conditions
Probation is conditional release after sentencing. The court may release someone into the community based on the defendant following the terms and conditions of the court. Probation can be difficult and may be required for years. The terms of probation will depend on the individual defendant, criminal history, and even on the individual judge involved.
If you violate the terms of probation, you could have probation revoked and be sentenced to jail. Examples of probation violations can include:
- Failing to appear in court
- Failing to pay court fees
- Failing to follow a protection order
- Failing to meet with your probation officer
- Failing to submit to alcohol and drug screenings
- Failing a drug or alcohol test
- Getting arrested while on probation
- Failing to attend substance abuse counseling
- Failing to attend a batterer's intervention program
The terms of probation for domestic violence will depend on several factors. However, in most cases, probation will require:
- Probation for a period of 3 years or longer
- Payments to a battered women's shelter, up to a maximum of $5,000
- Reimburse the victim for reasonable costs of counseling and other reasonable expenses that the court finds are the direct result of the defendant's offense
- Criminal court protective order protecting the victim from further acts of violence, threats, stalking, sexual abuse, and harassment, and, if appropriate, containing residence exclusion or stay-away conditions
- Probation fee
- Successful completion of a batterer's program or another appropriate counseling program designated by the court, for a period not less than one year
- Payment for the batterers intervention program
- Community service
Finding a Batterer's Intervention Program in Alameda County
Contact the Alameda County Probation Department for approved batterer's intervention programs.
Contra Costa Batterer's Intervention Program
Contact the Contra Costa County Probation Department, Domestic Violence Unit, for approved batterer's intervention programs.
Make sure you enroll in only a qualifying batterer's intervention program. There are some online websites that claim to offer batterer's counseling but they may not qualify in California or in your county. In order to qualify as an approved batterer's intervention program, the program has to meet the following standards.
- The establishment of guidelines and criteria for education services, including standards of services that may include lectures, classes, and group discussions.
- Supervision of the defendant for the purpose of evaluating the person's progress in the program.
- Adequate reporting requirements to ensure that all persons who, after being ordered to attend and complete a program, may be identified for either failure to enroll in, or failure to successfully complete, the program or for the successful completion of the program as ordered. The program shall notify the court and the probation department, in writing, within the period of time and in the manner specified by the court of any person who fails to complete the program. Notification shall be given if the program determines that the defendant is performing unsatisfactorily or if the defendant is not benefiting from the education, treatment, or counseling.
- No victim shall be compelled to participate in a program or counseling, and no program may condition a defendant's enrollment on participation by the victim.
Judicial Council of California Batterer Report
In 2009, the Judicial Council of California presented an evaluation of “Batterer Intervention Systems in California.” According to the findings, “for offenders who successfully completed the 52-week BIP, attitudes and beliefs showed small, positive, changes along a number of dimensions including taking greater personal responsibility, understanding the effect of abuse on others, and anger management.”
Intervention Program and Domestic Violence Research
In 2009, the U.S. Department of Justice, National Institute of Justice presented a special report on domestic violence, “Practical Implications of Current Domestic Violence Research: For Law Enforcement, Prosecutors, and Judges.” One section of the report looked specifically at intervention programs.
According to the report, there have been mixed results when evaluating whether batterer intervention programs prevent reabuse. However, abusers who complete the batterer programs are less likely to reabuse than those who drop out or are noncompliant. One study found that recidivism for people who completed the program had a reabuse rate of 14.3% compared to 34.6% for those who did not complete the program.
There may also be a correlation between alcohol and drug treatment and a reduction in reabuse. For many people convicted of domestic violence, a judge may also impose alcohol or drug treatment as a requirement of probation, in addition to batterer's intervention.
Another requirement that the court may impose is monitoring. Studies found that court monitoring can increase batterer intervention program attendance. As a result, the judge may require an ankle monitor as a condition of probation, with penalties for violating the term of probation or trying to tamper with the device.
Domestic Violence Charges in Oakland and Alameda County
Wiley W. Manuel Courthouse
661 Washington Street
Oakland, CA 94607
René C. Davidson Courthouse
1225 Fallon Street
Oakland, CA 94612
Other courthouses in Alameda County include:
Fremont Hall of Justice
39439 Paseo Padre Parkway
Fremont, CA 94538
Hayward Hall of Justice
24405 Amador Street
Hayward, CA 94544
East Bay Domestic Violence Defense Lawyer
East Bay attorney Lynn Gorelick has more than 38 years of criminal defense experience and understands the defenses that work in a California domestic violence case. Representing individuals and their families in Oakland and Alameda County, Lynn Gorelick is familiar with the local DV laws, and the local officers and prosecutors involved. Contact East Bay DV lawyer Lynn Gorelick today.