AB 139 – Domestic Violence Fees - A Technicality that Makes a Difference
Sacramento, CA – Assemblymember Chris Holden's AB 139 that strengthens penalties that abusers are required to pay to ensure that more funding is available to Domestic Violence Shelters was overwhelmingly approved today in the Assembly – the first piece of legislation heard on the floor this session.
AB 139 clears up a technicality in order to provide more funds for local domestic violence shelters. The bill stipulates that those convicted of domestic violence must pay a minimum $500 fee – not a fine – before they are granted probation. This clarification is important because it would ensure the Legislature's intent to use portions of the $500 fee to generate funding for local domestic violence programs.
"Since state courts differ in their interpretations of whether the payments are actually fines or fees, counties are unable to distribute domestic violence funds accurately and that means short-changing the shelters and the women they serve," explained Assemblymember Holden. "This bill will help clear up the confusion and the revenue stream. Who knew a technicality could make such a difference?"
The bill came out of a California State Audit conducted over four years that analyzed the distribution of payments used to support domestic violence shelters. The report revealed that many counties left a significant portion of payments uncollected due to the confusion about whether the payments were classified as fees or fines.
In the United States, domestic violence is the leading cause of injury to women between the ages of 15 and 44. Studies show that access to services offered by domestic violence shelters leads to a 60-70 percent reduction in the number of repeat assaults.