San Diego Court should ensure that procedures are in place so that courts do not reduce or waive domestic violence payments for reasons other than a probationer's inability to pay.
On December 20, 2012, San Diego Superior Court issued a memorandum to all its Criminal Judges and Commissioners announcing amendments to its Standard Sentencing Guidelines. In this memorandum, amendments to Penal Code 1203.097 were addressed (Stats. 2012, ch. 511 (AB 2094), Section 1). The specific information related to the Domestic Violence Fund Fee was to note an increase from $400 to $500 and that if the defendant lacks the ability to pay, the court must state on the record the reason for reducing or waiving the fee.
Additionally, in a subsequent response San Diego Superior Court indicated that its judicial leadership has addressed the issues of utilizing a financial incentive-based approach for completion of the Domestic Violence Recovery Program, which resulted in reductions to domestic violence payments, and confirmed with the prosecutor and the defense that the practice has been discontinued.
San Diego Court indicated that court administration discussed the audit findings with the court's judicial leadership. According to San Diego Court, the San Diego criminal justice community has approached the problem of domestic violence collaboratively over the years and has consistently urged the court to treat the completion of the mandatory counseling and treatment as a priority. Further, it explained that the prosecution and defense routinely agree to use a financial incentive-based approach to help ensure the defendant's timely completion of the 52-week Domestic Violence Recovery Program. It indicated that due to the audit findings, San Diego Court is now aware of the conflict that this plea-bargained, or agreed-upon, approach has created, especially in light of the effort to increase collection of the domestic violence fund fees. According to San Diego Court, its judicial leadership has indicated that it will embark on an effort to address the issues with its criminal justice partners, which are both the prosecution and defense bar. (See 2013-406, p. 180)
Agency responses received after June 2013 are posted verbatim.