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 (DPOs), who are assigned geographically throughout the County, intensively supervise domestic violence offenders. These DPOs function as liaisons between Batterer’s Treatment Providers and the Court to help offenders change their behavior so they can have, safe, healthy and appropriate relationships. Misdemeanor cases are placed on formal supervised 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 supervised 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
An initial risk assessment scale is completed on defendants referred to the Probation Department for investigation and supervision 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.
Furthermore, during each investigation phase, a thorough check of local civil records is made to determine whether the defendant has been involved in any family law matter. Additionally, a phone call to the Victim’s Advocate in the District Attorney’s office is conducted to obtain additional information that may not be contained in the court file or District Attorney’s file.
Once the defendant is convicted of a domestic violence offense and placed on supervision, Deputy Probation Officers are required to contact the victim immediately after sentencing to ensure that the victim understands what happened in court and knows how to contact the DPO. DPOs, who supervise Domestic Violence Court offenders, meet with offenders on a monthly basis in the office as well as in the offender’s home or employment in order to conduct searches and/or drug and alcohol testing, as well as compliance of the protective order, depending on their court orders. In misdemeanor convictions, defendants are ordered to return to court for ongoing progress performance reviews. At this time, it is an expectation the Batterer’s Treatment Providers will provide progress reports to the probation department regarding the defendant’s participation and progress in their program. DPOs also submit written reports to the Domestic Violence Court for performance reviews indicating the status of the defendant’s overall compliance or lack of while of supervised probation. With both reports, the Court is able to obtain an accurate assessment of the offenders’ overall adjustment and ongoing compliance of their court orders. 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 five Batterer’s Treatment Providers who conduct domestic violence counseling groups in seven 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 regard to attendance, fee schedules, communication with the Probation Department, and behavior control. These standards not only help ensure equal treatment of offenders 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 the County’s criminal justice branch in Redwood City. A judge is assigned to this Court.
Domestic Violence Court sentencing occurs on Thursday mornings each week at the Redwood City Courthouse. 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 Deputy Probation Officer is assigned to your case, call (650) 363-4244.
Domestic Violence FAQ
How do I sign up for domestic violence counseling?
If you have already been sentenced, you should have been given a paper that has all of the programs approved in San Mateo County. Call one of those offices and make an appointment. They will answer all of your questions about the program from there.
If you did not receive the form with all of the programs on it when you were in court, you can get a copy at any of the adult probation offices or you will find one in the forms section of this web site.
If you live in another county, contact their probation department to find out what agencies have been certified in that county. Then contact any of those agencies to make an appointment.
What if I do not have the money to pay for Domestic Violence counseling?
It is your responsibility to attend and pay for classes. Please contact the program regarding a reduction on fees or tell the judge about your financial trouble at the next progress report.
Can I attend more than one session of domestic violence counseling per week and complete the program sooner?
No, the law states that you must attend for 52 weeks.
Where can I get a list of Domestic Violence Treatment programs within San Mateo County?
You may come to any of our Adult Probation offices to get a list of available treatment programs or you may download it from this site.
How do I find out who my DPO is?
Even though the court instructs you to contact the probation department within 3 days, it almost always takes more than 2-3 weeks for your case to be assigned to the probation officer who will be supervising your case. You must contact the probation office within three days to get the paperwork going. After about 3 weeks, if you have not heard from your probation officer, it is your responsibility to get in touch with him or her. If you call reception after this amount of time, they should be able to tell you who your supervising officer will be. There are exceptions, where there are problems with the paperwork that it may take longer for your case to be assigned.
When I have a no contact order, how do I get that changed to a no harassment order?
The judge is the only one who can change a no contact order to a no harassment order. In domestic violence cases, the judge will usually wait until the defendant has started domestic violence counseling and shown that they will abide by their conditions of probation, before he or she is willing to modify the no contact order. Then, there must, both the victim and the defendant must agree that they want the no contact order modified.
The best way for this to happen is for the victim to contact the supervising probation officer and to express their desire for the no contact order to be lifted. It is also helpful if the victim sends something in writing. It is then up to the probation officer to make a recommendation one way or the other.
What happens if it is the victim who contacts the defendant?
The victim cannot be in violation of the no contact order. Even if the victim contacts the defendant, the defendant is still required to have no contact with the victim and can be arrested and/or have their probation violated if they do not terminate a phone call or walk away.