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Domestic Violence and Penal Code Section 1203.097

Domestic violence crimes have a long history of contention with the law. It wasn’t until recently that domestic violence was even treated seriously as a crime. Following high profile domestic violence cases such as the O.J. Simpson trial, legislators and prosecutors sought to impart greater consequences for domestic violence offenses. In most criminal cases, judges are allowed discretion regarding their imposed sentence.

But California’s state-specific laws limit the judge’s power when domestic violence crimes are sentenced. California Penal Code Section 1203.097 states that should a domestic violence offender be granted probation, there must be specified terms and conditions included.

Under What Circumstances Does This Law Apply?

If the victim of the crime can be defined by one of the categories outlined in the California Family Code Section 6211, this particular legislation applies. A victim falls into this category if the perpetrator has any of the following relationships to the victim:

  • They are the victim’s spouse or their former spouse
  • They cohabitate or previously cohabitated with the victim
  • They are dating or previously have dated the victim
  • They have a child with the victim
  • They are the parent of the victim
  • They are another close blood relative of the victim

The penal code isn’t restricted only to domestic violence crimes that include physical harm. The penal code applies to any crime involving a “victim” that meets the above outlined circumstances. Courts have even upheld the penal code regarding vandalism and disturbing the peace in cases where the victimized person has some kind of domestic relationship with the defendant.

What Are the Requirements of the Penal Code?

If the defendant is placed on probation after being convicted of a domestic violence crime, the sentencing judge is legally required to enforce these terms and conditions:

  • Probation must last a minimum of three years
  • There must be a criminal protective order issued by the court to protect the victim from the defendant
  • The defendant will be issued a fine of at least $500 plus assessments and penalties
  • The defendant will be required to attend and complete a 52-week program for batterers along with progress dates

The criminal protective order can take many forms, the mildest of which is a Level One order, which allows the involved parties to make peaceful contact.

How Is This Legislation Enforced?

Judges must comply with these requirements when passing a sentence. When an individual is convicted of a domestic violence misdemeanor, they’ll receive summary probation. They won’t be actively monitored during the probation. Their compliance is ensured through court-set progress dates in which the defendant must show they have progressed in their batterer’s class. If the defendant chooses not to comply with the terms of their probation, they will be faced with a probation violation. Probation violations can have consequences such as fines or jail time.

The legislation exists to make sure domestic violence perpetrators are given some form of rehabilitation, and that domestic violence victims are protected, even if the perpetrator does not face jail or prison time. The requirements for probation are bare minimum requirements, and a judge may add additional penalties should they deem it necessary.

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