Houman Fakhimi

The Consequences of Domestic Violence in California

Historically, many states looked at domestic violence as a family matter, something handled behind closed doors. The past three decades have seen a shift in that thinking and the laws that protect those families. Punishment for abuse in the state of California’s statutes reflects those changes. Just as important, the laws now take into account what many see as child abuse anytime domestic violence occurs with younger children witnessing it unfold.

Domestic Violence Convictions in California

In the state of California, Domestic violence convictions come with a three-year minimum probation sentence along with a one year mandatory program for batterers. These program sessions are weekly, which means to meet the conditions, a convicted domestic abuser must attend 52 weeks of these meetings. These programs are designed to address an inability to properly deal with anger and other issues.

An additional charge of battering carries even more punishment. It’s defined in California Section 242 of the Penal Code as, a “willful and unlawful use of force or violence against the person of another.”

Also, these days, California courts issue protective orders, even when they’re not requested, which protects the victim and any children against future violence, criminal threats, stalking, sexual abuse harassment, residence exclusion and other conditions. These orders are vehemently observed by all and can result in major problems if they are ignored.


In many instances, a district attorney in the state of California will not seek financial fines; however, a jail sentence is usually mandated, typically two weeks to one month. Often, when that time is served can be negotiated through the Domestic Violence Punishment program. That program is known as SWAP. The fees for this program include:

  • Daily program enrollment fee $10 for each day served
  • Statutory victim’s fund fine $100
  • Domestic violence fund fine $200
  • Monthly probation supervision $40 per month

Each charged offense can bring with it up to a $2000 fine imposed by the court (not the district attorney). It’s worth noting that costs are subject to a defendant’s ability to pay.

Guns and Long Firearms

It is important to note that under no circumstances can a person convicted of domestic abuse in California carry a firearm while on probation.

Other restrictions include:

  • Possible random drug testing
  • Anger management counseling
  • Requirement to have full time job

For those convicted of domestic assault in the state of California who are not United States’ citizens, they face deportation, even with resident status.

For those convicted of more serious crimes, they will face felony domestic violence charges and will likely be required to pay for any medical bills incurred by their victim. They face additional probation time and will often be sentenced to prison. More long term therapy is also often required, at the batterer’s expense.

If there are substance abuse issues, whether they are related to drugs or alcohol, they judge may require mandatory treatment. Rehabilitation is important, but make no mistake, the repercussions of an abusive relationship has lifetime consequences on victims and young children.