Fiona Ma for State Assembly

Assemblywoman Ma’s Bill To Prevent Domestic Violence Victims From Being Arrested Is Signed Into Law

Sacramento – Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger signed Assembly Bill 258 authored by Assemblywoman Fiona Ma (D-San Francisco).  The legislation would replace the term “primary aggressor” with “dominant aggressor” to clarify arrest procedure in domestic violence cases.

“Victims who are simply defending themselves should not have to undergo additional emotional stress by spending time in jail,” said Assemblywoman Ma, who serves as the Chair of the Select Committee on Domestic Violence.

In 2000, the Legislature amended California Penal Code 13701 to require police officers to arrest the dominant aggressor instead of the primary aggressor in domestic violence cases.  One of the underlying purposes of using the term dominant aggressor is to reduce the number of dual arrests, and instead, have police officers arrest the most dominant aggressor, the person who is the most significant, and not the first person to hit.  Penal Code §836 was not amended at the time the other code section was changed.

AB 258 will align the penal code sections and ensure there is no confusion for law enforcement when interpreting the law.