California Enforces Domestic Violence Laws

Domestic violence has been recognized as a serious problem especially after the OJ Simpson case, where Nicole Simpson was found stabbed to death along with her friend Ronald Lyle Goldman. Since then California has strongly enforced laws to prevent the rise of future crime, in this case domestic violence.

The O.J. Simpson trial, that started with domestic abuse.

The O.J. Simpson trial, where it all started with domestic abuse.

Years ago, domestic violence was more of a personal issue that was handled inside the home. Officials would stay out of the problem because they felt it was not their place to do so until things got more and more severe.

According to the California Courts website, Domestic violence is “abuse or threats of abuse when the person being abused and the abuser are or have been in an intimate relationship,” this includes married couples (man and a woman, woman and woman or man and man), dating, used to date, live or have lived together, “ex-bootycall”, have a child together; basically anyone who the abuser or abused person has had a sexual encounter with.  

What domestic violence laws consider abuse are: physical injury or attempt to injure someone, whether it was on purpose or not. Rape or sexual assault, traumatizing someone by threatening the person, harassing, stalking, treating, hitting, disturbing someone’s peace and or destroying someone’s personal property.

Laws in California even consider kicking, shoving, pushing, pulling hair, throwing objects at a person, keeping the person from going anywhere and this also includes physical abuse to the persons pet.

Domestic violence not only physical injury, it can also be verbal. If the abuser is abusing the person verbally, it can affect the abused person emotionally and psychologically.

In a recent interview with Oxnard Police Department, Detective Scott Aaron who works in the Domestic Violence Family Protection Unit, said most domestic cases have technology in common,

“..Cell phones and Facebook, somebody gets jealous, they see a girlfriend or wife talking to another guy so [they] get pist at each other… a lot of jealousy issues, they are insecure about their relationship.”

Detective Aaron has been with the Oxnard Police Department for 10 years, about his mid-mark and on, the crime rate had gone down in Oxnard but its on its way back up.

In a more recent crime stat report, Ventura County reported domestic cases have actually gone down in comparison of 2013 and 2014. Based on the information given on the Ventura County Sheriff Department, domestic violence in 2014 has dropped down to almost half the amount of 2013.

Officer Roger Garcia has worked for Oxnard Police for almost 9 years. Officer Garcia said he gets at least one domestic call per shift and the department responds to at least 10 calls a day.

“California law is one of the strictest laws in all of the United States. A lot of the major cases that came up was like the O.J. Simpson case, domestic violence really got amped up after that whole trial went through,” said Garcia.

In a sense, O.J. Simpson has made a difference in the state of California after the case of his ex-wife who had previously made domestic calls prior to her death. After the murder of Nicole Brown Simpson, California began to enforce and create laws to protect the person who is being abused.

“Domestic battery is classified, the classification is different versus your actual show signs of injury on the person. Just because you don’t have any signs on the person, still you can still be classified as being as domestic battery per the penal code section,” said Garcia.

When the abuser is taken into custody he is eventually taken to trial. Depending on the classification and charge, the person normally takes a plea deal rather than be in jail or prison for much more years.

If the person committed murder, depending on the degree [they] can get life in prison without the chance of parol. The person can also get minimum of 10 years if it is case where it was considered man slaughter or self-defense.

The crime rate map, featured in the Office of the Attorney General website, shows the crime rate within the past 10 years has gone down. Domestic is categorized under crime as part of the mapping.

California's crime rate drops within the past 10 years.

California’s crime rate drops within the past 10 years.

Oxnard Police Watch commander, Martin Meyer said he has gotten many domestic calls that ranged from murder-suicide, significant injury, pushing and shoving and cases where the are small children in the house who witnessed the case.

Domestic calls are priority and typically the aggressor is the male. Laws can do so much to protect the person who is being abused but unfortunately the person gives in to the abuser and returns to the never ending pattern of abuse.

“Unfortunately, the women don’t break the cycle of violence, it seems to be the national average… for whatever reason couples stay together,” said Martin.

Officer Garcia, Detective Aaron and Watch Commander Martin all agree that there are programs that offer support and help the victims of domestic violence but unfortunately, the state keeps cutting funding on these programs.

This is a probable cause as to why the laws in the state of California have gotten more strict. Any minor kick, shove or anything of some sort is taken seriously and can be reported to the authorities.

Due to the severity of altercations and potential physical injuries, strict domestic violence laws are strongly enforced in the state, there has been more and more reported calls that get documented in the government sites.

Consequences of a domestic violence conviction depend on the code section used as the basis for the prosecution. A conviction for battery under section 243(e)(1) can lead to a fine up to $2,000, imprisonment in county jail for a term of up to one year or both. The state can also sentence an individual to probation and participate in batterer’s counseling services.

Conviction under 273.5 may result in a sentence of imprisonment lasting for up to one year in county jail or two to four years in state prison, a fine up to $6,000, or both imprisonment and a fine.

Ventura County Public Defender’s Office Investigative Assistant, Joseph Vara deals with high volume domestic cases a week. Some are bad and some are not so intense but the worst case he has heard of was one that occurred within the last few weeks.

“we had a client who was charged for allegedly setting his wife on fire. This case is still pending so I cannot give you the specifics of the case, but this gives you a general idea of what kinds of cases we deal with,” said Vara.

Vara recommends people should get a restraining order to keep a certain person away. A domestic violence restraining order is one of California’s way of protecting victims. It is a court order that helps protect people from abuse or threats of abuse from someone they have a close relationship with.

A person who is being abused physically or verbally or anyone who has a close relationship with the person who is being abused like immediate family (Mother, Father, grandparent, in-law, child) can request a domestic violence restraining order.

Vara believes that no law can prevent one from being a victim of domestic battery. To avoid being a victim, one has to be proactive. Be aware of your surroundings and avoid contact with a spouse, or family member who is physically harming you.

“The basis for the California Laws are designed to reprimand people for their actions; however, we have seen repeated offenders who continue to engage in the criminal act ruining the lives of their spouse and for themselves,” said Vara.

Many domestic violence cases in the surrounding areas of Ventura County are handled at the Ventura County's Government Center.

Many domestic violence cases in the surrounding areas of Ventura County are handled at the Ventura County’s Government Center.

The state of California mandates all Peace Officers to conduct an arrest for any given domestic call, whether the officers find who the dominant aggressor is or not; by the state law, someone is going to jail.

California also penalizes those who pretend or fake an abusive injury. The person who is pretending to be an abused victim will be dealing consequences whether it is being fined, charged or something of that matter.

The California law requires sufficient evidence to follow through with the charge and hold the aggressor accountable if the aggressor is found guilty of domestic abuse.

Only time will tell if these laws are making a difference by affecting the crime rate. If anyone is in an abusive relationship, police officials highly recommend leaving the relationship and seek help from local domestic violence programs within the county or other victim assistance programs available.

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