The purpose of this specialized program is to support San Mateo County's efforts in developing an aggressive and integrated criminal justice response to spousal abuse that will break the cycle of domestic violence. Its premise is that arrests alone will not stop domestic violence, and that system-wide coordination and collaboration among criminal justice personnel and non-profit, non-government domestic violence and sexual assault programs are essential for success.
PROBATION DEPARTMENT STAFFING
Deputy Probation Officers, who are assigned geographically throughout the County, intensively supervise Domestic Violence probationers. These Deputy Probation Officers function as liaisons between Batterer’s Treatment Providers and the Court to help probationers change their behavior so they can have healthy, safe relationships. Misdemeanor cases are placed on formal probation by the Domestic Violence Court for a minimum of 18 months. Felony cases (not heard by the Domestic Violence Court) are placed on formal probation for 3 years. Not all Domestic Violence cases are placed on formal probation and may be placed on Court Probation.
PROBATION INVESTIGATION/SUPERVISION IN DOMESTIC VIOLENCE CASES
A risk assessment scale is completed on defendants referred to the Probation Department for investigation. In domestic violence cases, the investigator also makes a determination of lethality using a standard tool. These two instruments together indicate the probability of future violent or criminal behavior and the likelihood of the defendant to change.
Deputy Probation Officers are required to make contact with the victim immediately after sentencing to ensure that the victim understands what happened in court and knows how to contact the Deputy Probation Officer. Deputy Probation Officers, who supervise Domestic Violence Court probationers, meet with probationers in the office as well as in the probationer’s home in order to conduct searches and/or drug and alcohol testing, depending on their court orders. The Batterer’s Treatment Providers provide progress reports to the Deputy Probation Officers, who review them with the probationer. In misdemeanor cases, Deputy Probation Officers submit written reports to the Domestic Violence Court for performance reviews in court. Deputy Probation Officers clearly have as their primary goals the protection of the victim and any minor children as well as the reduction of trauma to family members in general.
During each investigation, a thorough check of local civil records is made to determine whether the defendant has been involved in any family law matter. This is followed up with a phone call to the Victim’s Advocate in the District Attorney’s office to obtain additional information that may not be contained in the court file or District Attorney’s file.
A risk assessment scale is completed on every defendant referred to the Probation Department for investigation. In addition, the investigator makes a determination of lethality using a standard test. These two instruments together indicate the probability of future violent or criminal conduct and the defendant’s amenability to change.
Deputy Probation Officers are required to make personal face-to-face contact with the victim immediately after sentencing to review the information previously provided and to ensure that the victim understands that information and knows how to contact the probation officer. Probation officers supervising Domestic Violence Court probationers see probationers in the office as well as make regular field calls to the defendant’s residence and usually conduct searches and/or administer urine tests pursuant to court orders. They obtain copies of treatment provider reports and review them with the probationer, in addition to submitting brief, written reports to the Domestic Violence Court at the time of performance reviews. Supervision officers clearly have as their primary goals the protection of the victim and any minor children, and the reduction of trauma to family members generally.
Based on section 1203.097(c) of the Penal Code, the San Mateo County Probation Department has certified six Batterer’s Treatment Providers who conduct domestic violence counseling groups in ten community-based locations throughout San Mateo County and from San Francisco to Palo Alto. These Providers contractually agree to conduct groups and cover topics consistent with the Penal Code. They also agree to follow standards set by the Probation Department in regards to attendance, fee schedules, communication with the Probation Department, and behavior control. These standards not only help ensure equal treatment of probationers but also help the Probation Department monitor the Treatment Programs. All Batterer’s Treatment Program counselors must have 40 hours of training in compliance with section 1203.098 of the Penal Code.
DESCRIPTION OF DOMESTIC VIOLENCE COURT PROCESS
Domestic Violence Court targets misdemeanor cases (the felony cases are heard in Superior Court). There is one Domestic Violence Court in each of the County’s two criminal justice branches (one in Redwood City and the other in South San Francisco). A judge is assigned to these two Courts.
Domestic Violence Court sentencing occurs one morning each week in each location. Defendants who are sentenced from this calendar are placed on supervised probation for a minimum of 18 months. Unless defendants are immediately remanded into custody, they are ordered to enroll in a certified Batterer’s Treatment Program within two weeks and to return to court with a Proof of Enrollment form provided by a certified treatment provider.
Following Proof of Enrollment appearances, probationers appear before the same Domestic Violence Court for progress reports at intervals to be determined by the Judge. A bench warrant is issued if the probationer fails to appear for any court date as ordered.
During progress report hearings, progress report materials, which include written reports from the Batterers Treatment Providers and the Deputy Probation Officers, are provided for the Judge’s consideration. A Deputy Probation Officer serves as a Court Officer and is present in Court to assist the Judge with any questions or concerns regarding a probationer’s probation.
If you have questions about a court case, contact the San Mateo County Courts.
If you want to know which Probation Officer is assigned to your case, call (650) 363-4244.