Domestic Violence Victim’s Comments Convince Judge to Modify Protection Order

By Amy Berberyan

MODESTO, CA – After a man accused of domestic violence pleaded guilty to two felonies here in Stanislaus County Superior Court this week, the preferred criminal protective order was modified by the judge at the request of the victim.

Jose Contreras pleaded guilty to two felony charges, child endangerment and battery on a spouse or cohabitor, and Judge Linda McFadden dismissed his misdemeanor case and gave him 48 months of formal probation, as well as 40 hours of community service.

Additionally, Contreras was instructed to undergo counseling, both parenting and domestic, with each course lasting 52 weeks.

Judge McFadden added, “The court will issue some sort of protective order,” and said she would consider what the victim, Deputy District Attorney Kirk Brennan, and Defense Attorney Robert Forkner had to say before deciding what type of order she would assign.

Before doing so, she warned Contreras that the spouse or cohabitor charge in Count 2 would affect him in the future, noting, “If you’re convicted of any other domestic violence related offenses, this conviction today can increase your sentence.”

DDA Brennan said the “victim is requesting a no harm no strike criminal protective order. I think stayaway is more appropriate, but I’m sure the court wants to hear from the victim.”

He added the victim told him, “She’s not afraid of the defendant. She wants to have contact with him. So her request is not to have a stayaway criminal protective order.”

“The People’s concern is primarily the safety of the child,” DDA Brennan clarified. “This is the second case that’s been filed against the defendant involving these two victims.”

He added, “The misdemeanor case was the same. Adult victim, but the child was present during part of that incident. (We) have some reservations about future contact due primarily to the seven-year-old child that has now witnessed two instances of domestic violence.”

When prompted by the judge, DDA Brennan explained “[the accused and victim] were living together prior to him being incarcerated.” Both acts were committed on the child’s mother by the accused, who is not the child’s biological father.

“If there’s continued violence in the home, then the child could be taken from that home,” Judge McFadden said. “That is a concern the court has. It’s important for the child to not be around violence, because it affects the child’s development.”

Judge McFadden modified a previous judge’s order to allow the accused and victim to have limited contact. This maintained that Contreras was incapable of coming within 100 yards of the victim, but allowed him to talk to her on the phone or write to her.

“It has to still be peaceful contact,” Judge McFadden stated. “Until you’ve done some counseling, I think it’d be a good idea for you to stay away from the residence. Once you’ve done some counseling, then that would be allowed, provided there is no recurrence (of violence).”

About The Author

Amy is a UCLA student majoring in English and Philosophy. She is interested in law and is from Burbank, California.

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