California attorney Chuck Tarr, a reader and supporter since 2004, has an interesting commentary on California’s Domestic Violence laws. Tarr writes:
Although on it’s face, California’s Domestic Violence laws would appear to be gender neutral, in practice, I think there is great disparity in attitudes. The DV calendar reminds me of an assembly line.
PC 273.5, the basic DV (domestic violence) statute, is a “wobbler”, that is, it can be charged as a misdemeanor or a felony. Hence, the “assembly line” procedure is that even in the most minor of situations (as the police must take away the “primary aggressor regardless of the “victim’s” wishes), a DV defendant is arrested and booked on felony charges.
Those charges carry high bail. If this takes place on a Thursday or Friday, they will sit in jail, usually until the following Monday.
They are humiliated and missing work. The first thing they want to do is get out of custody (assuming they could not afford to post bail). At the DV calendar for first appearances, when presented with the pitch that if they plead guilty they will be released with no further jail and just “probation,” many defendants do so, as they can’t afford to risk losing their job or staying in custody any longer.
Then, there is a mandatory one-year “Batterer’s Program” and repeated progress reports to the court during that year. A DV conviction, even if no weapons were involved, carries a 10-year firearm ban in California, and arguably, a lifetime ban federally.
What has happened in these types of cases and on many others is that in reaction to perhaps one heinous or outrageous case, some legislator introduces a bill (pandering to the electorate) changing the rules of evidence, changing penalties, changing procedures, etc. It’s a complex subject.