Domestic violence is a sensitive issue that needs to be addressed in the Imperial Valley and the current partnership between the Imperial County District Attorneys Office and WomanHaven is the combination that gives victims hope during their darkest moments.
Earlier this year, the Imperial County District Attorney’s office received a grant in the amount of $203,143 to create a specialized unit to provide a coordinated response to victims of domestic violence and their children right after the incident. The D.A.’s Office is working in conjunction with the Center for Family Solutions/WomanHaven to help women that have been victims of abuse.
This grant came from the Violence Against Women Act that is focused on investigation, immediate victim advocacy, and training for patrol officers to domestic violence situations. The Violence Against Women Act was signed in 1994 by President Bill Clinton. The Act provided $1.6 billion toward investigation and prosecution of violent crimes against women, imposed automatic and mandatory restitution on those convicted, and allowed civil redress in cases prosecutors chose to leave un-prosecuted. The Act also established the Office on Violence Against Women within the Department of Justice.
Imperial County Assistant District Attorney, Deborah Owen, gave a mid-year report to the Imperial County Board of Supervisors about the progress of this grant. The grant funds one District Attorney Investigator and a counselor.
Owen said that the D.A.’s office received 896 domestic violence cases in 2017 and out of those 582 were approved. Owen said that uniform crime charging standards come when after reviewing the complete investigation, the prosecutor is satisfied that the evidence shows the accused is guilty of the crime to be charged; there is legally sufficient, admissible evidence of a corpus delicti; there is legally sufficient, admissible evidence of the accused’s identity as the perpetrator of crime charged; and the case can be proven beyond reasonable doubt based on admissible evidence and considering all reasonable defenses.
Owen added that the prosecutor’s interest in holding the offender accountable may conflict with the victim’s personal resolution.
“The right of the victim to continue the relationship should not be confused with the obligation of the prosecutor to prosecute probable cases,” Owen stated.
Owen cited research that stares at children who witness domestic violence can have physical, developmental and psychological issues. It was also mentioned that children raised in homes with domestic violence can become perpetrators or victims by the age of 21.