Obviously, this is one of the biggest thing on people's minds when they have a domestic violence case pending against them — what is ultimately going to be their sentence. In other words, what are going to be the ramifications of what happened? How is it going to impact their life now and into the future?
I can give you an idea of some of the punishments and ramifications that come along with a domestic violence case. Of course, all domestic violence cases are not treated equally and there's a whole bunch of factors that determine what a punishment will be for a particular person.
For example, like the person's criminal record, how bad the injuries were, whether it's a felony or a misdemeanor and the perception of the prosecutors and the judge as far as what you did and how they think it needs to be dealt with punishment-wise.
Custody Time for Domestic Violence Conviction
Some of the punishments you're going to be looking at, number one probably the worse punishment, would be custody time. If it's a misdemeanor, you're typically looking at county jail time.
In Los Angeles county for example, that's some serious time because county jail is overcrowded. I don't think they really consider whether they're going to mix you with somebody who's in there for a real serious crime or not. Everybody has just been there together.
They don't typically segregate somebody because they have a domestic violence case in the county jail. So, you're going to be in there with people who have committed very serious crimes.. So, obviously that punishment is one of the more concerning ones to most people.
If you're convicted of a felony and there's great bodily injury for example, you're looking at spending time in prison. So, jail time is a real concern. One thing that's a problem as far as jail time goes is usually in LA county people are doing a fraction of the time in jail because of the overcrowding.
But for domestic violence cases, in my experience, the sheriffs will typically hold those people in custody longer than the rest of the population in county jail. So that's another concern that most people have.
Probation & 52-Week Domestic Violence Class
You're typically also going to be put on probation. It will be summary probation if you get convicted or a misdemeanor and it would be felony probation where you have a probation officer, have to pay money to the county to watch you and have travel restrictions and responsibilities to that probation officer.
If it was a felony probation, usually probation could be anywhere from three years to five years in a domestic violence case.
In addition to probation and in addition to possible jail time, you're also going to be ordered to complete a 52-week domestic violence course. This means once a week for a year, you've got to go to a course that's supposed to educate you related to anger management issues, domestic violence issues.
Along with a a whole host of other things that really is aimed at trying to educate people, not necessarily trying to punish people, but it's time consuming. It costs money and a lot of time people have trouble fitting it into their schedule.
They end up getting in trouble because the criminal courts are going to send progress reports and they're going to bring you back every month, two months, three months, six months and check to make sure that one of the things you're doing in addition to not getting in anymore trouble.
Also, not having any issues with the alleged victim in the case, but also doing your domestic violence course and if you don't — if you blow it off and if you don't do it you're going to end up getting thrown in jail for a period of time to punish you for that and then they still may order you to do it.
So, that's obviously a very significant and important punishment from judges' standpoints in domestic violence cases.
Community Service & Anger Management Classes
There are a whole host of other punishments that you can get, ranging from community service, to Cal Trans, those people you see on the freeway in the orange jumpsuits, angry management classes, AA meetings if there was alcohol involved in your case.
It's really going to depend on how good your attorney is in negotiating for you and also what you did in the case, what your criminal record looks like and what the prosecutors and judges perceive needs to be done in order to protect society, the alleged victim and to punish you for what happened.
Probably the last important thing that you need to be aware of when it comes to punishment is, there's going to be a protective order put in place. That is a form of punishment because you're going to be ordered to either completely stay away from the person that you supposedly battered for the probationary period.
Sometimes they even make it for ten years, or if you are still with that person and you still want to be with that person and that person still wants to be with you.
There could be what's called a Level 1 protective order imposed against you where you're still allowed to see the person but you have to have peaceful contact with the person, and sometimes that's a battle to get that Level 1 protective order.
The prosecutors and judge don't want to give it. They want to keep the parties separate. They want to protect the other party, so a lot of times that other party has to come into court and ask the judge to lift the full stay away order related to the protective order and sometimes the judge will do it and sometimes they won't do it.
Sometimes the judge will do it and sometimes they won't do it. Sometimes judges want the person to do half of the domestic violence classes before they'll even consider lifting the full protective order. Obviously, violating a protective order will result in additional penalties. This is obviously something you need to discuss with your attorney and figure out your best course of action related to punishments in domestic violence cases.