Domestic Battery seems to be the crime de jour to prosecute these days. Ever since the O.J. Simpson case, police officers do not seem to be able to go out to any domestic battery call without arresting someone. Prosecutors do not want to dismiss a domestic battery case unless they have absolutely no possibility of a conviction. Often times, a defendant in a criminal case does not fully understand the consequences of a domestic battery conviction until it is far too late.
Many people are aware that if someone is convicted of domestic battery here in California, there are certain mandatory conditions of probation. These conditions are spelled out in California Penal Code Section 1203.097. They require at least three years of probation, 52 weeks of domestic violence counseling by an approved provider, mandatory state fines and fees and community service. The Penal Code also requires progress reports in court at least every ninety days for the first year of probation.
This is by no means all of the problems that one has in store for them. The terms described above are the minimum possible conditions. This does not include the possibility of up to one year in jail for even a misdemeanor (several years in prison for a felony conviction). A conviction could also include community labor such as Caltrans work or Graffiti Removal, community service or additional fines.
Any domestic battery conviction also comes with a ten year ban on firearm ownership or possession. Additionally under federal law such a conviction calls for a permanent ban on firearm ownership or possession.
Any such conviction almost always requires a criminal protective order. This is like a restraining order, however it is granted by the criminal court and based only on the conviction, not an additional court hearing. The order may be in place for up to ten years. This type of order normally takes one of two forms: Either it is a full stay away order which means the restrained person can have no communication with the restrained party; or it can be a modified order allowing peaceful contact only. The record of the criminal protective order appears in law enforcement computers and follows the restrained party through their travels. This often causes delays at airport security facilities and even restriction from entering foreign jurisdictions.
These mandatory terms of probation also apply to cases where the charge was originally domestic violence and later gets reduced to another charge like assault or even disturbing the peace. This means that if you are charged with domestic battery and later get offered a “plea bargain” for a lesser charge, you will still be stuck with all the probation terms outlined above.
A conviction for domestic battery may also have a devastating effect on a child custody battle and on a family relationship. Under the Family Code a domestic battery conviction creates a presumption that the convicted person is not a suitable parent for purposes of child custody. This means that if you are going through a custody battle or a divorce, a conviction for domestic violence could be devastating to your family law case and your ability to obtain custody and/or visitation over your own children.
If you or anyone you know has been charged with domestic battery, call a competent criminal defense attorney immediately. If you have been arrested for domestic violence, you may already be in violation of some emergency protective order or criminal protective order and not even know about it.