Domestic Violence Batterers' Intervention Program - Penal Code 1203.097 PC
Suppose you are convicted of a domestic violence (DV) offense in Los Angeles County and placed on probation. In that case, the judge will most likely order you to attend a 52-week batterers' program called the Batterers' Intervention Program (BIP). The domestic violence terms of probation are defined under California Penal Code 1203.097 PC.
In Los Angeles, domestic violence incidents are considered serious with harsh penalties, including fines, jail time, protective order, community service, and probation, with strict conditions listed under PC 1203.097.
Further, you might be ordered to enroll in a drug or alcohol treatment program or attend anger management classes. Notably, a domestic violence conviction in California means you will lose your right to own or possess a firearm.
After a DV conviction, you must enroll in an approved BIP by Los Angeles County within 30 days. This one-year program will require you to attend a two-hour class once per week and must be completed within 18 months. You must complete a final evaluation to comply with the program's demands fully.
Regular attendance is expected, and you are not allowed to have more than three absences, which must have a “good cause.” You will be required to pay the program fees, but they could be adjusted based on your ability to pay.
Suppose you do not complete the BIP program. In that case, it could result in a probation violation. Let's review this state law further below.
When is the BIP Required?
Domestic violence laws in California make it a crime to harm or threaten an intimate partner, family member, etc. The most common DV convictions are Penal Code 243(e)(1) PC domestic battery and Penal Code 273.5 PC corporal injury to a spouse.
Family Code 6211 says, “domestic violence is abuse perpetrated against any of the following persons:
- A spouse or former spouse.
- A cohabitant or former cohabitant, as defined in Section 6209.
- A person with whom the respondent has or has had a dating or engagement relationship.
- A person with whom the respondent has had a child.”
Suppose your DV victim is included on this list above. In that case, you are required to be placed on probation for three years, and the batterers' intervention program is a condition of your probation, and the terms are listed under PC 1203.097.
Most domestic violence-related convictions will result in probation, whether a misdemeanor or a felony, meaning most people convicted must complete classes. Notably, the court does not require physical injuries to order the BIP.
The BIP requirement is a standard sentence for anyone sentenced to summary or formal probation for a domestic violence offense who is not sentenced to jail or prison.
Sometimes, in negotiations for a plea agreement, the prosecutor might offer a lesser offense, such as Penal Code 415 PC disturbing the peace, but you would have to complete the BIP in exchange.
Penal Code 1203.097 says, “(a) If a person is granted probation for a crime in which a victim is a person defined in Section 6211 of the Family Code, the terms of probation shall include all of the following:
(1) A minimum period of probation of 36 months, which may include a period of summary probation as appropriate. (2) A 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.”
Description of the Batterers' Intervention Program
The Batterer's Intervention Program (BIP) was established in California in 1994 to educate and treat individuals convicted of domestic violence.
The program is typically completed through a state-approved provider and designed to help convicted domestic violence defendants identify and change their behavior.
In Los Angeles, you will be provided with a list of approved program providers and expected to sign up for the 52-week program yourself. There are costs for the program, and you will face penalties if you miss too many classes or do not complete them.
The classes are considered educational and counseling as they are designed to focus on the causes of abusive behavior and family violence. They will highlight victim impact and the changes that need to occur to prevent repeat domestic violence offenses.
Through the program, it is believed that individuals can learn to change their violent behavior patterns and adopt healthier relationship habits through structured intervention. A primary purpose of BIP is to:
- help defendants recognize underlying issues to their violent behavior, and
- develop appropriate coping strategies to address their issues.
The theory is that when defendants engage in the program, they can start to work towards ending their violent behavior and establish positive relationships with their intimate partners and family members.
What Happens in BIP Classes?
BIP has group discussions, lectures, and one-on-one counseling primarily designed to help defendants learn about their behavior and new skills for managing conflict. Participants in BIP will learn the following:
- the dynamics of power and control in relationships,
- the different types of domestic abuse and some methods to stop them;
- strategies to make the defendant accountable for any violence;
- communication skills,
- anger management, and
- the effects of domestic violence on children, etc.
BIP participants must not be under the influence of alcohol or drugs and must sign a confidentiality agreement prohibiting the disclosure of information they learned through participation in the program.
There are periodic progress reports that evaluate performance. Suppose the judge believes they need to make more progress. In that case, the court has the right to extend the time required for attending the BIP.
Upon completion, they will receive a Certificate of Completion to submit to the court as proof that they have fulfilled the requirement.
What Happens if You Fail to Complete the BIP?
Suppose you don't complete the program or miss too many classes. In that case, the program administrator can terminate you and send a letter to the court informing them.
Suppose you drop out of the BIP or fail to complete it within the required time frame. In that case, you could face the following legal consequences;
- Revocation of probation. The court could decide to revoke your probation, leading to additional penalties or reinstatement of the original sentence. They could issue a probation violation and issue a bench warrant.
- Imposition of additional penalties. The judge might impose harsher conditions on your probation, such as higher fines, community service, or a more extended probation period.
- Extension of the program. Sometimes, the court will require you to repeat or continue the program until it's completed.
Simply put, as noted, BIP is a mandatory condition of domestic violence probation, meaning failure to complete it will result in penalties.
Once you violate probation, the judge could decide there is no longer any reason to “suspend” the legal penalties for your underlying crime. Next, since there is no suspension, the judge can immediately sentence you to jail time, fines, and other related penalties.
A domestic violence conviction is a serious issue due to the long-term consequences on your professional and personal life. You will need an experienced Los Angeles domestic violence attorney for the best chance at success.
You must consult our domestic violence lawyers to understand the consequences and legal options. We will closely review all the details to develop an effective strategy for the best possible outcome. We offer a free case evaluation by phone or using the contact form. The Hedding Law Firm has offices in Los Angeles, CA,