Assemblymember Holden's First Bill Passes Assembly

Thursday, March 21, 2013

AB 139 – Domestic Violence Fees - A Technicality that Makes a Difference

Sacramento – 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?”

“Local domestic violence shelters not only provided life-saving help for families fleeing abuse, they also serve a crucial public safety function in their communities,” said Tara Shabazz, California Partnership to End Domestic Violence. “AB 139 will help guarantee that these vital programs get the funding they need to fulfill their missions, and help keep California families healthy and safe.”

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.

Contact: Wendy Gordon, 626.351-1917