Domestic Violence Probation in Los Angeles Courts
Many people who are convicted of a domestic violence offense in a Los Angeles County criminal court are placed on probation for a certain amount of time. However, the judge has the discretion to deny probation and sentence a defendant to serve their sentence in a county jail or a California state prison.
Probation is just one of several potential consequences of being convicted of domestic violence in California. It should be noted that probation may be granted instead of, or in addition to, jail time in many domestic violence related criminal cases.
A judge can grant probation as a way for the court to make sure you pay your debt to society without sending you to an overcrowded Los Angeles county jail. Under California Penal Code 1203.097, you will typically be given at least 36 months of probation for a domestic violence conviction.
Any sentence imposed by a judge for a domestic violence related offense will always depend on whether the underlying crime was a misdemeanor or felony. For example, domestic battery (CALCRIM 841) under Penal Code 243(e)(1) is a misdemeanor crime that carries the likelihood of receiving probation.
However, the more serious domestic violence crime of corporal injury to a spouse under California Penal Code 273.5, is a “wobbler” where the prosecutor has the discretion to file the case as either a misdemeanor of felony.
If the judge decides to grant probation, you will be expected to follow all the terms and conditions of probation, including those of a domestic violence protective order, which are common.
To give readers a better understanding of probation in domestic violence cases, our California criminal defense attorneys are providing a detailed outline below.
Summary Probation vs. Supervised Probation
There are two types of probation in California - summary probation and supervised probation. Summary probation, known as “informal probation,” applies to a misdemeanor domestic violence conviction. Supervised probation, known as “formal probation” applies to a felony conviction.
Probation will normally last from three to five years and it’s a conditional release program. It will allow you to serve your domestic violence sentence within the community, rather than sitting in a county jail.
Again, it’s crucial to note that you must adhere to the terms and conditions of probation. Of course, this includes not committing any new crimes, and other conditions, during the period of probation.
If convicted of a misdemeanor domestic violence offense and placed on summary probation, you won’t be actively monitored by the Los Angeles County Probation Department. Rather, you will be given due dates to complete community service, counseling, fines and other condition of probation imposed by the court.
If convicted of a felony domestic violence offense and placed on supervised probation, you will be required to regularly check in with the probation department, who is responsible for monitoring your progress and to report any violations to the court. Also, you will be subjected to random drug testing.
Probation Terms for Domestic Violence Offenders
If granted a probation sentence, there will be several requirements you must follow. Some requirements are specific to the type of conviction. For example, a domestic violence offense will normally include a mandatory 52-week batterers’ intervention program as part of your probation. The classes usually meet once a week for two hours and they involve education, group work, and counseling.
The judge might also order you to attend substance abuse counseling, anger management classes, perform community service hours, or even serve some time in jail.
While you are on probation for a domestic violence conviction, you will be required to pay fines and victim restitution or make payments to a battered women’s shelter. Obviously, you are expected to attend all the ordered classes, keep all counseling appointments, and successfully complete all of them on time.
There are other restrictions for domestic violence probation. For example, you will be prohibited from owning, possession, or having any type of custody or control of a firearm.
Additionally, you could have a temporary or permanent domestic violence restraining order, or a stay away order, issued against you that prohibits contact with the victim. If you violate the terms of the restraining order, you could be facing a probation violation.
In some cases, the victim wants to reconcile their relationship and will ask the court to have the protective order lifted. The judge might be open to terminating the protective order or reduce it to a Level One, which would allow peaceful contact.
In some domestic violence cases, it could affect custody of your child. You could be prohibited from visiting your child, but it’s more common for the judge to order supervised child visitation. If so, and you have contact with your child without supervision, it could also result in a probation violation.
Probation Violations for Domestic Violence
If you fail to successfully complete the terms of domestic violence probation in a timely manner, the judge could issue a probation violation and bench warrant for your arrest.
Violating your probation could result in the judge imposing your original sentence. This means if the judge granted probation, rather than a jail sentence for your domestic violence offense, you will serve jail time for the original sentence.
The judge also has the discretion to impose the maximum jail sentence for your offense, which can be one year in county jail for a misdemeanor crime. In situations where the judge doesn’t order jail time, they can modify the terms and conditions of your probation and make it longer.
The judge could also revoke probation entirely and send you to jail due to the violation. The judge even has the option to reinstate probation and add additional terms, like more community service hours or extra time in custody.
It should be noted that you are entitled to a hearing to challenge an alleged probation violation. During such a hearing, your criminal defense lawyer can present in court testimony and evidence in an attempt to prove a probation violation didn’t occur. However, these type of probation violation hearings are decided by the judge only, not a jury.
As you can see, probation for a domestic violence offense requires that you follow numerous restrictions, which are frequently hard to follow. If you violate probations, then there is a good chance you will be facing time in jail. If you are an undocumented immigrant, you could be facing deportation.
Los Angeles Domestic Violence Lawyer
The consequences of a domestic violence convection can be severe. If you have been accused of violating domestic violence probation in any Los Angeles County criminal court, you will need skilled criminal defense lawyers who know how to defend your rights at the probation violation hearing.
Our lawyers could give to a better chance at minimizing penalties for a probation violation, and might be able to keep you from serving jail time. If you or a family member was arrested for a domestic violence offense or already placed on probation, then you should discuss the case with our attorneys to review options for best possible outcome.
Early intervention into the case is crucial to the outcome as we might be able to negotiate with the prosecutor for reduced charges, or even get the case dismissed.
Eisner Gorin LLP is a nationally recognized criminal defense law firm with a record of success. Our office is located at 1875 Century Park E #705, Los Angeles, CA 90067. Contact our office for a consultation at (310) 328-3776.