Batterers’ Intervention Program in
(California Domestic Violence Classes)

A Batterers' Intervention Program (“BIP”) is a set of 52 weekly domestic violence classes. Persons convicted of certain California domestic violence offenses must complete this program as part of their terms of probation.

California domestic violence laws make it a crime to harm, or threaten to harm, an intimate partner. Two examples in California include:

Most DV convictions result in probation (regardless of whether the offense was a misdemeanor or a felony). This means most people convicted of DV must take and complete domestic violence classes.

A Batterers' Intervention Program is a combination of education and counseling and it specifically focuses on:

  • The causes of domestic abuse;
  • The effects abuse has on a victim; and,
  • Changes that must take place to prevent repeat domestic violence offenses.

Offenders in the program meet once a week for two hours. And, they must successfully complete a final evaluation to fully comply with the program's demands.

A defendant that fails to complete a BIP is technically in violation of his domestic violence probation. As a result, the party may face jail time and/or fines. This is true no matter if the offender was on a misdemeanor probation or a felony probation.

Our California criminal defense attorneys will discuss the following in this article:

domestic violence intervention program
A Batterers' Intervention Program (“BIP”) is a 52-week domestic violence course.

1. A Basic Understanding of Domestic Violence Classes in California

A domestic violence conviction in California results in a minimum sentence of three years of probation.1

As a condition of probation, an offender must complete a Batterers' Intervention Program. A BIP is a 52-week class whose members meet once a week for two hours. An offender must complete the classes within 18 months of the order granting probation.

The goal of a BIP is to stop domestic violence.2 The program focuses on the following:

  • The causes of domestic abuse;
  • The effects abuse has on a victim; and,
  • Changes that must take place to prevent repeat domestic violence offenses.

A BIP is a combination of education and counseling.

Members are only allowed a maximum of three absences during the program. And, absences are only authorized if a member can show good cause.

An offender must pay for the program out of his own pocket. The overall cost, though, typically depends on the defendant's financial status.

2. Cases Where a BIP is Required

For the most part, any domestic violence offense will result in probation (regardless of whether the offense was a misdemeanor or a felony). This means if a person is guilty of DV, he must complete a BIP program. And, he must do so as a condition of probation.

California domestic violence laws make it a crime to harm, or threaten to harm, an intimate partner. Common crimes of domestic violence in California include:

  • Penal Code 243(e)(1) “domestic battery,” and
  • Penal Code 273.5, “inflicting corporal injury on an intimate partner.”

California Family Code 6211 FC provides a more detailed definition of domestic violence. According to this section, “domestic violence” is abuse committed against any of the following persons:

  • A spouse or former spouse;
  • A person the defendant lives with or used to live with;
  • A person the defendant is dating or did date;
  • A person with whom the defendant has had a child with; and/or,
  • A person related to the defendant by kinship.3

If a victim of domestic violence is any of the above parties, then California law says that the offender must be placed on probation for a minimum of three years.4

And again, a BIP is a condition of every domestic violence probation in California.5

group counseling domestic violence california
A BIP is a combination of education and counseling

3. The Specific Topics, Materials, and Components within a Batterers' Intervention Program

As stated above, domestic violence classes focus on:

  • The causes of domestic abuse;
  • The effects abuse has on a victim; and,
  • Changes that must take place to prevent repeat offenses.

A BIP is a combination of education and counseling and it includes:

  • Lectures,
  • Classes,
  • Group discussions, and
  • One-on-one counseling sessions.6

Under California Penal Code 1203.097 PC, a few of the program's components are:

  • An initial intake where an offender learns of the different types of domestic abuse and the techniques for stopping them;
  • Strategies to hold the defendant accountable for the violence in a relationship;
  • Programming that looks at the effects of abuse on children;
  • Periodic progress reports; and,
  • A final evaluation.7

Persons in a BIP must attend group sessions free of chemical influence.8

Further, attendees must sign a confidentiality agreement that prohibits the disclosure of information learned, or obtained, through participation in the program.9

4. What Happens if I Don't Complete the Domestic Violence Classes?

A Batterers' Intervention Program is a condition of a domestic violation probation. This means that if an offender fails to complete the program, he is in violation of his probation and may face jail time and fines.

Please note that there are two types of probation in California – misdemeanor probation and felony probation.

Typically, if a party was convicted of misdemeanor domestic violence, he will be placed on misdemeanor probation. If he was convicted of a felony domestic violence, he will be placed on felony probation.

Regardless of the type of probation, the main benefit of probation is that any jail sentence for the underlying offense (and other penalties) is suspended.

Under California Penal Code 1203.3, the court can revoke, modify, or change its order of suspension of a sentence if a person is guilty of violating probation.10

This essentially means that upon probation violation, the court may decide to no longer suspend any penalties for the underlying crime. If no suspension, then the offender may be subject to:

  • Imprisonment for the offense (if applicable);
  • Any related fines; and,
  • Possible other penalties.

5. Other Terms and Conditions of a Domestic Violence Probation

A BIP is one condition that an offender must meet in order to comply with a domestic violence probation.

Other possible terms and conditions of this probation include:

  • A criminal court protective order that protects the victim from further acts of violence, threats, stalking, sexual abuse, and harassment11;
  • Notice to the victim regarding how a case is being handled; and,
  • A minimum payment by the defendant of $500.

Please also note that offenders will lose their gun rights following domestic violence convictions. And courts have repeatedly ruled that such restrictions do not violate a person's Second Amendment right to bear arms.

Do you have to attend a Batterers' Intervention Program in California? Call us for help…

california domestic violence legal defense attorneys
Call us at (855) LAW-FIRM

If you or someone you know has to attend a Batterers' Intervention Program, or some other court imposed domestic violence class, we invite you to contact us for a free consultation. We can be reached 24/7 at 855-LAWFIRM.


Legal References:

  1. California Penal Code 1203.097(1).

  2. California Penal Code 1203.097(c)(1).

  3. California Family Code 6211.

  4. California Penal Code 1203.097(a).

  5. California Penal Code 1203.097(c).

  6. See same.

  7. See same.

  8. California Penal Code 1203.097 (c)(1)(E).

  9. California Penal Code 1203.097(c)(1)(L).

  10. California Penal Code 1203.3.

  11. Please note that a person will receive criminal penalties for violating a protective order, per Penal Code 273.6.

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