Domestic Violence: When Is an Arrest Mandatory?
You really don’t understand the law. You called the police because your ex-girlfriend is harassing you on social media. She’s calling you all kinds of names and making your life miserable. Someone told you that cyber-harassment could be an act of domestic violence. As far as you are concerned, the police should lock her up and throw away the key. What you don’t know is that an arrest is not always mandatory when it comes to domestic violence.
Just about everybody has heard the saying that “familiarity breeds contempt.” If you find yourself the victim of domestic violence, you most likely agree. The same is true if you are accused of an act of domestic violence. Quite simply, it’s hard to believe that intimacy can sometimes turn bad. Nevertheless, not every accusation requires an arrest. Find out what you need to know.
Mandatory Arrests for Domestic Violence
New Jersey has specific requirements when it comes to mandatory arrests for domestic violence. According to NJSA 2C:25-21, there are specific circumstances when police are required to take alleged attackers into custody. The consideration starts with a claim from someone that he or she was a victim of domestic violence. The responding law enforcement authorities are then required to determine whether any act of domestic violence has occurred.
Let’s go back to our cyber-harassment story. No doubt you have all the evidence in front of you to show how your ex is destroying your reputation online. Doesn’t that mean the police should arrest her? After all, it’s all there in black and white.
When it applies to mandatorily arresting someone for domestic violence, there’s more. The police must also determine answers to the following questions:
- Is there any evidence of injury attributable to domestic violence? Are there physical marks, blood or other indications the victim has been hurt? Does the victim appear to be in pain? Could the victim be suffering from internal injuries?
- Is there a warrant already in effect calling for an arrest?
- Has the accused violated a no-contact order? If the victim does not have a copy of the order, law enforcement officials will attempt to verify its existence. Failure to comply with the terms of a restraining order suggests a mandatory arrest.
- Was a weapon used in connection with the act of domestic violence?
Under New Jersey law, the police are obligated to make arrests based on the answers to these questions and their own observations. Again, it is up to law enforcement to determine probable cause. In some circumstances, law enforcement authorities may use their discretion in making an arrest for acts of domestic violence.
When both parties show signs of physical injury, the police will attempt to determine if one party was the assailant. They will review prior domestic violence complaints, as well as the extent of injuries. In some cases, both will be arrested.
Discretionary Arrests for Domestic Violence
In some circumstances, none of the preceding seems to apply to a situation. It could be that the victim has not claimed an act of domestic violence. Nonetheless, the police do have the authority to make discretionary arrests for domestic violence.
Law enforcement personnel receive extensive training when it comes to protecting domestic violence victims. Although a police officer may not see physical injuries, there may be concerns. This may mean either an arrest or swearing out a criminal complaint. Essentially, this allows the matter to proceed for judicial attention.
We are Here to Help!
At the Law Offices of Anthony Carbone, we are here to help. If you are a victim of domestic violence, we want to provide you with the steps needed to ensure your safety. Meanwhile, our office also assists those accused of domestic violence. Give us a call to set up an appointment.