Domestic Violence Risk Assessments: What You Need to Know
Did you know? Just about a year ago, the State of New Jersey came out with a new directive to all law enforcement executives. In finding that domestic violence risk assessments are critical, the Attorney General’s office set up a scoring system. The tool is essential in evaluating situations – and may prove useful in determining mandates for restraining orders.
The ODARA Scoring Form actually claims roots outside of New Jersey and even the United States. ODARA stands for Ontario Domestic Violence Risk Assessment and was originally developed in 1999 to measure the dangers men posed to their female partners in domestic violence situations. Other states also use a version of this tool as a means of evaluating terse circumstances involving individuals needing protection against future acts of domestic violence.
The police are only required to complete an ODARA Scoring Form in select circumstances. This means pulling together information after the most recent incident of alleged domestic violence, regardless of the defendant’s sex. Ultimately, numbers are tallied to score the prospective danger the perpetrator represents to the victim. The ODARA form must be completed when the following offenses are charged:
- Aggravated Assault
- Sexual Assault
- Simple Assault (with contact or with weapon)
- Terroristic Threats (with contact or with weapon)
- False Imprisonment (with contact or with weapon)
- Criminal Sexual Contact
- Second Degree Burglary (with contact or with weapon)
- Any other crime involving risk of death
Defendants can be assessed one point for each of thirteen separate categories. In actuality, a very small percentage of individuals score above a five when the results are tallied. All things considered, those with higher scores are deemed at least fifty percent more likely to commit new assaults within five years.
What DV Risk Assessments Measure
As noted, the ODARA Scoring Form requires responding law enforcement officials to evaluate the immediate incident from different perspectives. For example, one question deals with whether or not the victim was confined. In other words, did the defendant prevent the intimate partner from leaving of their own free will?
Police officers are also required to assess the situation as far as the chance of future assaults. This involves asking victims if they are worried about future danger to themselves or their children.
The form also allocates points when it comes to children. Do the couple have more than one child together? Does the victim have a biological child with someone other than the defendant? Was the victim pregnant at the time of the most recent incident? What about support issues?
Questions about substance abuse are also asked during the assessment. Were they related to the alleged acts of domestic violence?
The balance of the ODARA Scoring Form deals with prior acts of domestic violence, including those not involving the partner making the current allegations. This includes scoring a point for prior violent acts against someone who falls outside the protections afforded to domestic violence victims.
Additional numbers are allocated for incidents of assault reported to the police whether they are with domestic violence partners or others. Prior custodial sentencing and failures on current or past releases are assessed, as are non-compliance issues with other restraining orders.
If you are facing domestic violence charges, you may be inclined to retain an attorney whose practice is limited to criminal defense. Meanwhile, it is also important to select someone with experience in family law. There are both criminal and civil issues that can affect your future. The Law Offices of Anthony Carbone has decades of experience in both criminal defense and family law. Contact us for assistance.