BILL ANALYSIS                                                                                                                                                                                                    



                                                                     AB 439


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          Date of Hearing:  April 7, 2015


                           ASSEMBLY COMMITTEE ON JUDICIARY


                                  Mark Stone, Chair


          AB 439  
          (Bloom) - As Introduced February 23, 2015


                              As Proposed to be Amended


          SUBJECT:  Protective orders: batterer's program


          KEY ISSUE:  IN ORDER TO BETTER PROTECT VICTIMS OF DOMESTIC  
          VIOLENCE AND THEIR CHILDREN, SHOULD A COURT THAT ORDERS A  
          RESTRAINED PARTY, AS PART OF A DOMESTIC VIOLENCE RESTRAINING  
          ORDER, INTO A BATTERER'S PROGRAM BE PERMITTED TO KNOW IF THE  
          RESTRAINED PARTY ACTUALLY ATTENDS THE PROGRAM AS REQUIRED?


                                      SYNOPSIS


          A defendant convicted of criminal domestic violence is required,  
          as a condition of probation, to participate in a batterer's  
          intervention program, and the court and the probation department  
          are notified when the defendant enrolls in the program and if  
          the defendant fails to complete the program.  A court issuing a  
          civil domestic violence protective order has the option of  
          ordering a batterer to participate in a batterer's program, but  
          there is no corresponding requirement that the court be informed  
          of batterer's enrollment in, or completion of, the program, as  
          required.  This bill, sponsored by the Family Law Section of the  








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          State Bar, seeks to correct that by allowing the court and the  
          victim to receive information about the batterer's participation  
          in the program.  This bill is supported by, among others, the  
          California College and University Police Chiefs Association and  
          the California Partnership to End Domestic Violence.  There is  
          no known opposition.


          SUMMARY:  Requires a party subject to restraining order under  
          the Domestic Violence Protection Act (DVPA) who is ordered to  
          participate in a batterer's intervention program to meet certain  
          conditions.  Specifically, this bill:  


          1)Requires, effective July 1, 2016,  a party restrained by a  
            protective order issued after hearing under the DVPA, who has  
            been ordered by the court to participate in an approved  
            batterer's program to:


             a)   Register for the batterer's program by the deadline set  
               by the court or, if no deadline is ordered, within 30 days  
               from the date the order is issued.


             b)   Upon enrollment, sign all necessary forms to permit  
               release of proof of enrollment, attendance records, and  
               completion or termination reports to the court and the  
               protected party.  Allows the court and the protected party  
               to provide the program with contact information in order to  
               receive the restrained party's records in the program.


             c)   Provide the court and the protected party with the name  
               and address of the batterer's program.


          2)Requires the Judicial Council, by July 1, 2016, to revise or  
            promulgate forms as necessary to effectuate 1), above.








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          EXISTING LAW:  


          1)Authorizes a court, under the DVPA, to issue and enforce a  
            domestic violence restraining order, including an emergency  
            protective order, a temporary restraining order and a  
            permanent restraining order.  (Family Code Section 6300 et  
            seq.  Unless stated otherwise, all further statutory  
            references are to that code.)


          2)After notice and a hearing, a family court may require a  
            restrained party to participate in a batterer's program  
            approved by the probation department, as provided.  (Section  
            6343.)


          3)Requires certain probation conditions be imposed when a person  
            found guilty of a domestic-violence-related offense is granted  
            probation.  These conditions include successful completion of  
            at least one year of a batterer's program, as defined.   
            Requires that the probation department and the court receive  
            proof of enrollment, as well as notice if the defendant fails  
            to complete the program or is performing unsatisfactorily in  
            the program.  (Penal Code Section 1203.097.) 


          4)Creates a rebuttable presumption that, if a court finds that a  
            party seeking custody of a child has perpetrated domestic  
            violence on the other party or the child within the previous  
            five years, an award of sole or joint custody to that person  
            is detrimental to the child.  Provides that when considering  
            whether the presumption may be overcome, the court must  
            consider, among other things, whether the perpetrator  
            successfully completed a batterer's treatment program.   
            (Section 3044.) 









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          FISCAL EFFECT:  As currently in print this bill is keyed fiscal.


          COMMENTS:  A defendant convicted of criminal domestic violence  
          is required, as a condition of probation, to participate in a  
          batterer's intervention program, and the court and the probation  
          department are notified when the defendant enrolls in the  
          program and if the defendant fails to complete the program.  A  
          court issuing a civil domestic violence protective order has the  
          option of ordering a batterer to participate in a batterer's  
          program, but there is no corresponding requirement that the  
          court be informed of the batterer's enrollment in, or completion  
          of, the program, as required.  This bill, sponsored by the  
          Family Law Section of the State Bar, seeks to correct that by  
          allowing the court and the victim to receive information on the  
          batterer's participation in the program.


          In support of the bill, the author states:


               Under existing law, the court may order the restrained  
               party in a Domestic Violence Prevention Act (DVPA) matter  
               to attend a 52-week batterer's intervention program.   
               However, courts do not always get accurate information of  
               the restrained party's participation in the program.   
               Confidentiality provisions of batterer's intervention  
               programs prevent them from providing records directly to  
               the court absent a release signed by the restrained party.   
               Batterers' intervention programs have no explicit[]  
               authority to share information with the courts in DVPA  
               matters the way they do in criminal cases under Penal Code  
               section 1203.097(c)(1)(o) and (c)(3)(C).  Information about  
               the restrained party's attendance in batterer's  
               intervention programs, including termination, is highly  
               relevant to custody determinations in family court.   
               Currently the court and the protected party must rely on  
               the restrained party to bring in these records.  Often,  








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               restrained parties fail to provide records, or may even  
               bring in falsified records.  The majority of parties in  
               restraining order cases are self-represented, and may fail  
               to provide this information on purpose or simply because  
               they believe the program provides the information to the  
               court directly.


          Devastating Effects of Domestic Violence on Children and  
          Families:  Domestic violence is a serious criminal justice and  
          public health problem most often perpetrated against women.  
          (Extent, Nature and Consequences of Intimate Partner Violence:  
          Findings from the National Violence against Women Survey, U.S.  
          Department of Justice (2001).)  Prevalence of domestic violence  
          at the national level ranges from 960,000 to three million women  
          each year who are physically abused by their husbands or  
          boyfriends.  While the numbers are staggering, they only include  
          those cases of reported domestic violence.  In fact, according  
          to a 1998 Commonwealth Fund survey of women's health, nearly 31  
          percent of American women report being physically or sexually  
          abused by a husband or boyfriend at some point in their lives.   
          (Health Concerns Across a Woman's Lifespan: 1998 Survey of  
          Women's Health, The Commonwealth Fund (May 1999).)


          Domestic violence continues to be a significant problem in  
          California.  In 2005, the Attorney General's Task Force on  
          Domestic Violence reported that:


               The health consequences of physical and psychological  
               domestic violence can be significant and long lasting, for  
               both victims and their children. . . . A study by the  
               California Department of Health Services of women's health  
               issues found that nearly six percent of women, or about  
               620,000 women per year, experienced violence or physical  
               abuse by their intimate partners.  Women living in  
               households where children are present experienced domestic  
               violence at much higher rates than women living in  








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               households without children: domestic violence occurred in  
               more than 436,000 households per year in which children  
               were present, potentially exposing approximately 916,000  
               children to violence in their homes every year.


          (Report to the California Attorney General from the Task Force  
          on Local Criminal Justice Response to Domestic Violence, Keeping  
          the Promise: Victim Safety and Batterer Accountability (June  
          2005) (footnotes omitted).)


          Batterer's Intervention Programs:  Since 1994, California has  
          required that a defendant convicted of criminal domestic  
          violence must, as a condition of probation, participate in a  
          batterer's intervention program.  Batterers' programs are  
          designed to stop domestic violence by holding batterers  
          accountable and providing them with strategies to stop the abuse  
          through lectures, classes, group discussions and counseling.    


          A 2006 evaluation of batterers' programs by the State Auditor  
          revealed that only half of batterers ordered into intervention  
          programs ever completed the programs and that as many as a  
          quarter never even enrolled in the programs in the first place,  
          with little consequence.  (California State Auditor, Batterer  
          Intervention Programs:  County Probation Departments Could  
          Improve Their Compliance With State Law, but Progress in  
          Batterer Accountability Also Depends on the Courts (Nov. 2006).)  
           Since that time, steps have been taken to improve  
          accountability on the criminal side, but there remains no  
          statutorily required accountability on the civil side.





          Under Current Law, A Batterer Could Not Complete a Court-Ordered  
          Intervention Program, But Neither the Court nor the Victim Would  








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          Necessarily Know, Which Could Impact Both the Victim's Safety  
          and Ongoing Custody Disputes:  A family court today, issuing a  
          domestic violence protective order, can order the restrained  
          party to participate in an approved batterer's program, but  
          there is no requirement that the court, or the protected party,  
          be informed of enrollment in, or completion of, the program.   
          The restrained party's enrollment in, attendance at, and  
          completion of a court-ordered batterer's intervention program is  
          relevant to the parties' ongoing disputes.  It is certainly  
          important to ensure that the person complied with the court  
          order.  A batterer who knows that his or her completion of the  
          program is being tracked may be more likely to comply with the  
          court order.  Moreover, successful completion of the batterer's  
          program should lead to reduced abuse both for the restrained  
          party and for others as well.


          Additionally, if the parties have children together, completion  
          of a batterer's program is very relevant for any ongoing custody  
          disputes.  There is a rebuttable presumption against custody to  
          a parent who has committed domestic violence against the other  
          parent or the child within the previous five years.  The  
          presumption may be overcome if, among other things, the  
          perpetrator has successfully completed a batterer's treatment  
          program.  Thus, both the court and the protected party should be  
          able to independently determine whether such a program was  
          successfully completed.  This bill does just that.


          The bill also creates a new requirement that the batterer enroll  
          in a court-ordered program within the deadline set by the court  
          or, if no deadline is ordered, within 30 days from the date the  
          order is issued.  This provision makes clear to the restrained  
          party when he or she must comply with the court order and helps  
          ensure that timely enrollment will occur.  Given that most  
          parties in domestic violence cases are unrepresented, this bill  
          rightly requires the Judicial Council to prepare forms as  
          necessary so that the restrained party understands what is  
          required of him or her and the protected party knows how to  








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          obtain attendance and completion information from the batterer's  
          program.


          ARGUMENTS IN SUPPORT:  The Family Law Section of the State Bar  
          writes:


               Under existing law, the victim of domestic violence does  
               not have a way of monitoring the restrained party's  
               enrollment and progress in a court ordered batterer's  
               program.  The victim and his or her attorney does not have  
               any way of ensuring that the restrained party has timely  
               enrolled and completed the program successfully.  Due to  
               confidentiality, the program will not release confirmation  
               of the restrained party's enrollment, attendance and either  
               successful completion or termination of the program.  And  
               yet, this information is shared in a criminal domestic  
               violence case. This information is necessary and important  
               as it enables the court and the victim to ascertain if the  
               restrained party is taking steps to address the issues and  
               actions that led to the issuance of a restraining order,  
               and whether the restrained party is making progress in the  
               program.  Such information is valuable to the court and the  
               victim as it can provide the court with information to  
               protect the victim and allow the court to continue  
               monitoring the restrained party's progress and any threat  
               to the victim, as well as address any continued  
               restrictions or modifications to a parenting plan, to  
               ensure the protection of the minor children.


               AB 439 would create a mandated consistency throughout the  
               courts to set a deadline date for enrollment of no later  
               than 30 days and allow the victim and his or her attorney  
               to easily monitor the restrained party through the program  
               to determine whether further court intervention is needed  
               or to flag the court to the restrained party's failure to  
               enroll, attend or successfully complete the program.








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          REGISTERED SUPPORT / OPPOSITION:




          Support


          Family Law Section of the State Bar (sponsor)


          California College and University Police Chiefs Association


          California Partnership to End Domestic Violence


          Many individuals




          Opposition


          None on file




          Analysis Prepared by:Leora Gershenzon / JUD. / (916) 319-2334














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