As of June 1, 2016 a newly formed court termed DVAC (domestic violence) causes ALL persons charged with misdemeanor and felony versions of Domestic Battery to comply with new conditions as part of their standard bond. Namely, all persons are required to undergo immediate evaluation by designated agencies to determine whether domestic violence / anger management treatment is recommended. Virtually every person will be required to undergo this evaluation. Following the evaluation, a recommended treatment plan will require the subject to continue treatment until the plan is completed. What this means is that all persons charged with these offenses are mandated to continue treatment until their plan is complete or case is closed. If a subject does not comply with the evaluation or treatment their bond may be revoked. There are no contact addendums added to bond conditions that require absolutely no contact wtih the purported victim until the case is disposed of or bond condition removed. In practice this results in no contact for at least one month until the subject files a motion to modify bond conditions and same is approved by the court. Think about the practical result of this sole bond condition. One may be ejected from his/her residence pursuant to this bond condition. This condition is a major concern for all my clients that fall under the purview of this condition.
I typically file a motion to modify bond as soon as I am retained as the attorney for a defendant charged with this type of offense. The court will require me to continue or defer the motion for at least two weeks to ensure they are complying with the anger management classes. The State at that point in time will object (either "for the record" or otherwise). The court then makes a ruling to either allow a return to the residence or will reset the matter for reconsideration to a later date.
One problem that occurs from these new conditions is that the defendant is required along with their attorney to appear in court every two weeks to provide proof of treatment compliance. This becomes extremely onerous. A typical client must take off work twice a month to appear in court in order to comply with these conditions. Another major problem is that an accused, despite being presumed innocent, must comply with conditions normally imposed only after conviction or plea. Our justice system has not in the past forced defendants to comply in this manner until such time as they were convicted or entered into negotiated plea terms whereby they would undergo the evaluation and treatment as a condition of sentence.
Although bond conditions are liberally construed to give judges the ability to order these terms for a defendant, each individual case should be examined prior to imposing them. The DVAC court imposes these conditions upon all defendants without individual examination to determine whether the conditions are required.
As an update to my original post, the numbers in DVAC are becoming overwhelming. Yesterday's docket had over 60 people on it. The turnaround time for attorneys to resolve their case setting is about 30 minutes due to the judges calling of the docket. Attorneys bill for their time. The manner in which the docket is being handled is not well organized. If the docket was streamlined to run the same days as the regular felony docket and preliminary hearings the benefit to clients would be a lower legal bill for services. It appears the judges in charge of the docket are unwilling to modify the manner in which the docket is handled. Unfortunately, many attorneys don't realize the time requirements for these cases because of their relatively low caseload. When they represent their first client in DVAC they immediately realize the problems raised.
If you are charged under the DVAC court please contact a qualifed attorney to address your concerns.