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SB-1141 Domestic violence: coercive control.(2019-2020)

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Date Published: 05/29/2020 09:00 PM
SB1141:v97#DOCUMENT

Amended  IN  Senate  May 29, 2020
Amended  IN  Senate  May 06, 2020

CALIFORNIA LEGISLATURE— 2019–2020 REGULAR SESSION

Senate Bill
No. 1141


Introduced by Senator Rubio
(Coauthor: Assembly Member Lackey)(Coauthors: Assembly Members Lackey and Blanca Rubio)

February 19, 2020


An act to amend Sections 3044, 6203, and 6320 of, and to add Section 6204 to, the Family Code, relating to coercive control.


LEGISLATIVE COUNSEL'S DIGEST


SB 1141, as amended, Rubio. Domestic violence: coercive control.
Existing law establishes the Domestic Violence Prevention Act for the purpose of preventing acts of domestic violence, abuse, and sexual abuse and providing for a separation of the persons involved in the domestic violence for a period sufficient to enable those persons to seek a resolution of the causes of the violence. Existing law, for purposes of that act, defines “abuse” to mean, among other things, sexual assault.
This bill would add coercive control to that definition. The bill would further define conduct that constitutes coercive control to include, among other things, isolating a victim from friends, relatives, or other sources of support. The bill would provide that coercive control only applies with respect to victims of domestic violence. to a victim with whom the person engaging in conduct that constitutes coercive control has or has had a sexual, dating, or spousal relationship.
Existing law requires a family court to determine the best interests of a child in deciding child custody in specified proceedings and establishes a rebuttable presumption that an award of child custody to a person who has perpetrated domestic violence is detrimental to the best interests of the child. In overcoming that presumption, existing law requires the court to consider specified factors, including whether the perpetrator of domestic violence has committed any further acts of domestic violence. Existing law authorizes a court to issue an ex parte order enjoining a party from engaging in specified acts against another party, including threatening or harassing that party, and, in the discretion of the court, against other named family or household members. A violation of this court order constitutes contempt of court, which is punishable as a misdemeanor.
This bill would, for purposes of a family court determining child custody in those proceedings, provide that coercive control is evidence of perpetration of domestic violence. The bill would, additionally, permit a court’s ex parte order enjoining a party from engaging in specified acts to enjoin that party from coercively controlling another. Because a violation of that court order would constitute contempt of court and would therefore be a crime, the bill would impose a state-mandated local program.
The California Constitution requires the state to reimburse local agencies and school districts for certain costs mandated by the state. Statutory provisions establish procedures for making that reimbursement.
This bill would provide that no reimbursement is required by this act for a specified reason.
Vote: MAJORITY   Appropriation: NO   Fiscal Committee: YES   Local Program: YES  

The people of the State of California do enact as follows:


SECTION 1.

 The Legislature finds and declares all of the following:
(a) Coercive control is a form of abuse rooted in societal inequalities and replicated with devastating effects in intimate partner relationships when one partner’s autonomy is subordinated to the will of the other partner.
(b) Coercive control deprives victims of their personal liberty through a pattern of behavior that does not always include physical violence but that still causes lasting harm to a victim.
(c) This bill is intended to provide redress for the harm of coercive control in intimate partner relationships by giving a name to the specific liberty deprivations inherent in coercively controlling behavior.
(d) This bill is not intended to override the findings and declarations as stated in the legislative history of the Domestic Violence Prevention Act.
(e) In restricting the application of coercive control to a specified category of victims, this bill is not meant to limit or alter existing protections afforded by the Domestic Violence Prevention Act to victims, as defined in Section 6211.

SEC. 2.

 Section 3044 of the Family Code is amended to read:

3044.
 (a) Upon a finding by the court that a party seeking custody of a child has perpetrated domestic violence within the previous five years against the other party seeking custody of the child, or against the child or the child’s siblings, or against any person in subparagraph (C) of paragraph (1) of subdivision (b) of Section 3011 with whom the party has a relationship, there is a rebuttable presumption that an award of sole or joint physical or legal custody of a child to a person who has perpetrated domestic violence is detrimental to the best interest of the child, pursuant to Sections 3011 and 3020. This presumption may only be rebutted by a preponderance of the evidence.
(b) To overcome the presumption set forth in subdivision (a), the court shall find that paragraph (1) is satisfied and shall find that the factors in paragraph (2), on balance, support the legislative findings in Section 3020.
(1) The perpetrator of domestic violence has demonstrated that giving sole or joint physical or legal custody of a child to the perpetrator is in the best interest of the child pursuant to Sections 3011 and 3020. In determining the best interest of the child, the preference for frequent and continuing contact with both parents, as set forth in subdivision (b) of Section 3020, or with the noncustodial parent, as set forth in paragraph (1) of subdivision (a) of Section 3040, may not be used to rebut the presumption, in whole or in part.
(2) Additional factors:
(A) The perpetrator has successfully completed a batterer’s treatment program that meets the criteria outlined in subdivision (c) of Section 1203.097 of the Penal Code.
(B) The perpetrator has successfully completed a program of alcohol or drug abuse counseling, if the court determines that counseling is appropriate.
(C) The perpetrator has successfully completed a parenting class, if the court determines the class to be appropriate.
(D) The perpetrator is on probation or parole, and has or has not complied with the terms and conditions of probation or parole.
(E) The perpetrator is restrained by a protective order or restraining order, and has or has not complied with its terms and conditions.
(F) The perpetrator of domestic violence has committed further acts of domestic violence.
(c) For purposes of this section, a person has “perpetrated domestic violence” when the person is found by the court to have intentionally or recklessly caused or attempted to cause bodily injury, or sexual assault, or to have placed a person in reasonable apprehension of imminent serious bodily injury to that person or to another, or to have engaged in behavior involving, but not limited to, threatening, striking, harassing, destroying personal property, coercively controlling as described in Sections 6203 and 6204, or disturbing the peace of another, for which a court may issue an ex parte order pursuant to Section 6320 to protect the other party seeking custody of the child or to protect the child and the child’s siblings.
(d) (1) For purposes of this section, the requirement of a finding by the court shall be satisfied by, among other things, and not limited to, evidence that a party seeking custody has been convicted within the previous five years, after a trial or a plea of guilty or no contest, of a crime against the other party that comes within the definition of domestic violence contained in Section 6211 and of abuse contained in Section 6203, including, but not limited to, a crime described in subdivision (e) of Section 243 of, or Section 261, 262, 273.5, 422, or 646.9 of, the Penal Code.
(2)  The requirement of a finding by the court shall also be satisfied if a court, whether that court hears or has heard the child custody proceedings or not, has made a finding pursuant to subdivision (a) based on conduct occurring within the previous five years.
(e) When a court makes a finding that a party has perpetrated domestic violence, the court may not base its findings solely on conclusions reached by a child custody evaluator or on the recommendation of the Family Court Services staff, but shall consider any relevant, admissible evidence submitted by the parties.
(f) (1) It is the intent of the Legislature that this subdivision be interpreted consistently with the decision in Jaime G. v. H.L. (2018) 25 Cal.App.5th 794, which requires that the court, in determining that the presumption in subdivision (a) has been overcome, make specific findings on each of the factors in subdivision (b).
(2) If the court determines that the presumption in subdivision (a) has been overcome, the court shall state its reasons in writing or on the record as to why paragraph (1) of subdivision (b) is satisfied and why the factors in paragraph (2) of subdivision (b), on balance, support the legislative findings in Section 3020.
(g) In an evidentiary hearing or trial in which custody orders are sought and where there has been an allegation of domestic violence, the court shall make a determination as to whether this section applies prior to issuing a custody order, unless the court finds that a continuance is necessary to determine whether this section applies, in which case the court may issue a temporary custody order for a reasonable period of time, provided the order complies with Section 3011, including, but not limited to, subdivision (e), and Section 3020.
(h) In a custody or restraining order proceeding in which a party has alleged that the other party has perpetrated domestic violence in accordance with the terms of this section, the court shall inform the parties of the existence of this section and shall give them a copy of this section prior to custody mediation in the case.

SEC. 3.

 Section 6203 of the Family Code is amended to read:

6203.
 (a) For purposes of this act, “abuse” means any of the following:
(1) To intentionally or recklessly cause or attempt to cause bodily injury.
(2) Sexual assault.
(3) To place a person in reasonable apprehension of imminent serious bodily injury to that person or to another.
(4) To engage in any behavior that has been or could be enjoined pursuant to Section 6320.
(5) To engage in coercive control, as specified in Section 6204.
(b) Abuse is not limited to the actual infliction of physical injury or assault.

SEC. 4.

 Section 6204 is added to the Family Code, to read:

6204.
 (a) A person’s conduct constitutes coercive control if the person intentionally, or with reckless disregard of the consequences, engages in a pattern of behavior that interferes with the will of the victim with the intent to cause the victim severe emotional distress or that a reasonable person would know would be likely to cause the victim severe emotional distress, the victim does suffer severe emotional distress, and the person’s conduct is not reasonable under the circumstances.
(b) Examples of conduct that may constitute coercive control include, but are not limited to, all of the following:
(1) Isolating the victim from friends, relatives, or other sources of support.
(2) Depriving the victim of basic necessities.
(3) Controlling, regulating, or monitoring the victim’s movements, communications, daily behavior, finances, economic resources, or access to services.
(4) Compelling the victim by force, threat of force, or intimidation to engage in conduct from which the victim has a right to abstain or to abstain from conduct in which the victim has a right to engage.
(c) Coercive control may be committed directly, indirectly, or through the use of third parties, and by means of any instrumentality, including, but not limited to, electronic communication devices.

(d)Paragraph (5) of subdivision (a) of Section 6203 only applies to a victim as defined in Section 13700 of the Penal Code.

(d) This section applies only to a victim with whom the person has or has had a sexual, dating, or spousal relationship.
(e) This section does not limit any remedy available to any person under this act or any other provision of law.

SEC. 5.

 Section 6320 of the Family Code is amended to read:

6320.
 (a) The court may issue an ex parte order enjoining a party from molesting, attacking, striking, stalking, threatening, sexually assaulting, battering, credibly impersonating as described in Section 528.5 of the Penal Code, falsely personating as described in Section 529 of the Penal Code, coercively controlling as described in Sections 6203 and 6204, harassing, telephoning, including, but not limited to, making annoying telephone calls as described in Section 653m of the Penal Code, destroying personal property, contacting, either directly or indirectly, by mail or otherwise, coming within a specified distance of, or disturbing the peace of the other party, and, in the discretion of the court, on a showing of good cause, of other named family or household members.
(b) On a showing of good cause, the court may include in a protective order a grant to the petitioner of the exclusive care, possession, or control of any animal owned, possessed, leased, kept, or held by either the petitioner or the respondent or a minor child residing in the residence or household of either the petitioner or the respondent. The court may order the respondent to stay away from the animal and forbid the respondent from taking, transferring, encumbering, concealing, molesting, attacking, striking, threatening, harming, or otherwise disposing of the animal.

SEC. 6.

 No reimbursement is required by this act pursuant to Section 6 of Article XIII B of the California Constitution because the only costs that may be incurred by a local agency or school district will be incurred because this act creates a new crime or infraction, eliminates a crime or infraction, or changes the penalty for a crime or infraction, within the meaning of Section 17556 of the Government Code, or changes the definition of a crime within the meaning of Section 6 of Article XIII B of the California Constitution.