Batterers could face lengthy sentences

October 22, 2001|By DARREN SIMON, Staff Writer

Domestic violence is a crime that can carry a lengthy prison sentence, although District Attorney's officials would rather see batterers change their ways and avoid hard time.

First-time batterers — those who may have pushed or slapped, but have not seriously injured a victim — could find themselves facing misdemeanor charges.

That crime is known as battery on a spouse, and a person convicted of it could face a year in county jail plus a fine.

However, rather than a year in county jail, a batterer charged with a misdemeanor could be ordered to a 52-week anger-management program run by the Center for Family Solutions in El Centro.


The goal, according to the District Attorney's Office domestic violence unit, is to try to change the attitudes of the first-time batterer so the person does not repeat such violence and so the family can remain united.

However, there are cases where batterers do not change their behavior. Despite a domestic violence conviction and a chance to take part in an anger-management course, some batterers become repeat offenders.

In such cases, batterers could again receive a year in county jail, plus additional time for a probation violation connected to their first conviction.

In addition, their time in an anger-management course may be expanded and the fine against the offender will be stiffer.

Repeat offenders charged in misdemeanor cases will face some mandatory time in custody, depending on the number of convictions.

Felony cases of domestic violence are different because the level of violence and injury to the victim is greater.

In such cases, a conviction would lead a batterer to a possible one-year sentence in county jail if the judge is willing to grant probation and allow such offenders to take part in an anger-management course coupled with their time in custody.

However, a conviction could lead to a four-year prison sentence, with an enhancement of five years to run consecutive with the first four years because the crime was related to domestic violence.

That means a batterer convicted of a felony could serve a total of nine years in state prison.

Those with the DA's Office domestic violence unit said the goal is to prevent a batterer from becoming more violent and break the cycle of violence.

They said people need to understand the goal of the DA's Office is to keep families together when possible.

According to Center for Family Solutions officials, there are cases where a family can remain intact because the batterer wishes to change.

Then, there are those cases where the victim must be prepared for his or her own safety and for the safety of the family to start a new life free from the batterer.

Staff Writer Darren Simon can be reached at 337-4082.

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