What To Expect From Law Enforcement
When reporting domestic abuse to a law enforcement officer, the officer on the scene is responsible for
making sure you and the people around you are not injured, and
connecting you with local agencies and resources that help victims of domestic violence.
In addition to these responsibilities, the law enforcement officer should also provide the “Legal Rights and Remedies Notice to Victims” document. This notice should include the following:
Resources available from the local domestic violence shelter and the Department of Children and Families.
A paper that says: “IF YOU ARE THE VICTIM OF DOMESTIC VIOLENCE, you may ask the state attorney to file a criminal complaint. You also have the right to go to court and file a petition requesting an injunction for protection from domestic violence which may include, but need not be limited to, provisions which restrain the abuser from further acts of abuse direct the abuser to leave your household prevent the abuser from entering your residence, school, business, or place of employment award you custody of your minor child or children and direct the abuser to pay support to you and the minor children if the abuser has a legal obligation to do so” .
This statement explains the following:
A description of physical injuries observed, if any.
If a law enforcement officer decides not to make an arrest or decides to arrest two or more people, the officer shall/will include the reason that the arrests were or were not made.
Applications To Vary Bail
Prosecutors should insist the defence gives proper notice of any application to vary bail in order that enquiries can be made of the complainant to seek their views and check whether any court orders already exist or are pending.
Where the proposed variation concerns contact with a child, prosecutors should note that such contact might provide the perpetrator with opportunities to intimidate the child and/or complainant which, in the worst cases, could lead to murder or suicide. The same may also apply with regard to unborn foetuses – both issues will need to be properly highlighted to ensure that any variations avoid providing the perpetrator with an opportunity to exploit the circumstances of their relationship with the complainant.
Similarly, where cases involve non-intimate partner abuse, it is possible that perpetrators will exploit situations, or seize on opportunities, enabling them to perpetrate further abuse, such as through the involvement of other family members, or community contacts. Specific and thorough consideration should be given especially in cases involving coercive and controlling behaviour. Prosecutors should be alert to this, and ensure that they maintain the prioritisation of the complainant’s safety.
When Is A No
When there is an allegation that one family member has committed an offence against another family member, a no-contact condition is almost always put in place. These orders usually prohibit the accused from having any contact or communication, directly or indirectly, with certain family members. There is often also a condition that the person must not return to the family home. The accused is usually allowed to return on one occasion, in the presence of a police officer, to retrieve their property.
A no-contact condition often prohibits both contact in person and contact via telephone, email, or text message. In addition, these orders will often prohibit indirect contact, which includes asking a third party to pass messages between the accused and the complainant.
It is a criminal offence for a person to violate a no-contact condition. If the police become aware that an accused person is violating this condition, the accused will usually be arrested. The police may then tell a JP that the accused should be denied bail and held in custody until their matters are dealt with through the courts. This could result in a person remaining in custody for several months.
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Further Information On Police Services
Most police forces have a specialist division to provide ongoing follow-up, investigation and risk assessment of incidents of domestic abuse.
These may be called Domestic Violence Units or Community Safety Units. The officers should have been specially trained to respond sensitively, to give you guidance and to use their knowledge of domestic violence offending to advise you during the investigation and prosecution processes.
Each police force in the UK has its own website, though some are more informative and helpful than others. Some police websites give information about how they respond to domestic abuse incidents, and may include copies of policy documents, and information on what you can expect if you report an incident to them.
Some police forces now use a risk assessment tool to help them identify who is at greatest risk of further harm from their abuser. That means that they may ask you questions which may not seem directly related to this offence, but will help them decide the extent to which you may be at risk of further abuse.
Some police forces now share information with other agencies in order to help provide support and protection to women and children most at risk of further domestic abuse.
Each police force now has a domestic violence policy and/or a strategy or guidelines that you could check if you are unhappy with the way they responded to you.
To find the website for the police force covering your area, you can go to the UK Police Service portal.
Domestic Abuse Best Practice Framework
The CPS, together with the police and HM Courts and Tribunal Service are leading efforts to implement a best practice framework for use in cases of DA across all magistrates courts in England and Wales. This is intended to ensure cases of DA are handled effectively, and victims and witnesses are supported appropriately.
The framework was developed following a deep dive exploration and analysis of the ability of local Criminal Justice Agencies to respond effectively to DA cases and effectively support victims. Following the testing of the framework in three test sites, all the sites improved their DA performance, moving from being low performing areas to being in line with or above national average DA performance.
Four common components of best practice which were identified as pivotal to improving the capacity and capability of the CJS to respond effectively to reports of DA offending, whilst providing a level of service to victims, which increases their safety and satisfaction in the CJS include:
- A clear multiagency/community approach which addresses risk management and safeguarding procedures
- Independent Domestic Violence Advisor support
- Trained and consistently deployed staff across all agencies and
- In court services: proactive witness services/pre-trial familiarisation visits/appropriate use of special measures.
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After A Domestic Violence House Call: What To Do Next
From the moment they arrive to the moment they leave, the police will be heavily scrutinizing the scene for any indications of possible ongoing violence. Any aggression or aggravation shown towards them or other involved parties will only be used against you.
And, even if the law requires fair and equal treatment of all persons regardless of race, gender, or religion realize that unconscious personal bias may still taint the perceptions of even the most earnest of law enforcement.
Dont give them any ammunition that they can use to make you or your familys situation worse.
Instead, ask for your lawyer and then follow their instructions to the letter. Domestic violence lawyers can help protect you and your family from further harm, either against false domestic violence allegations or by seeking emergency protective orders.
What Will Happen To The Abuser
If the abuser is arrested, he/she will be held in jail until the “first appearance” before a judge. After first appearance, the person can be released until the next hearing. At that next hearing, a temporary injunction can be filed before the abuser is released. This temporary injunction will be active until the final hearing. If the abuser is found to be guilty of domestic violence, he/she will be held on at least one year’s probation and, unless deemed inappropriate by the court, will take part in a batterer’s intervention program that will be a part of probation .
In addition to probation and batterer’s intervention programming, the abuser can be sentenced to a minimum of five days in a county jail if found guilty of intentionally causing bodily harm to another person. If your abuser has a history of domestic abuse, he/she may face a felony charge with up to five years in prison . If this is the case, the abuser will no longer be able to own a firearm and will have any concealed weapon license revoked. If the abuser is convicted of a more severe charge, such as Aggravated Domestic Battery, he/she could face up to 15 years in a state prison .
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The Relationship Between The Victim And Perpetrator Under The Statutory Definition
The definition of domestic abuse is in two parts, which can be found at s1 DA Act. The first part deals with the relationship between the victim and the perpetrator.
There are two criteria governing the relationship between the abuser and the abused. The first criterion states that both the person who is carrying out the behaviour, the perpetrator, or A, and the person to whom the behaviour is directed, the victim, or B, must be aged 16 or over. The second criterion states that both persons must be personally connected.
Possibility Of Proceeding With A Prosecution Without The Complainant’s Live Evidence
The prosecution strategy should, from the outset, consider the possibility of proceeding without the complainant’s support. Prosecutors should rarely need to apply to the court for further time to investigate this possibility. Prosecutors should always consider whether there is any risk to the safety of the complainant in the case proceeding without their support a complainant should not be placed at increased risk through this course of action. Prosecutors should consider the following in the order outlined:
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Helping A Friend If They’re Being Abused
If you’re worried a friend is being abused, let them know you’ve noticed something is wrong.
They might not be ready to talk, but try to find quiet times when they can talk if they choose to.
If someone confides in you that they’re suffering domestic abuse:
- listen, and take care not to blame them
- acknowledge it takes strength to talk to someone about experiencing abuse
- give them time to talk, but do not push them to talk if they do not want to
- acknowledge they’re in a frightening and difficult situation
- tell them nobody deserves to be threatened or beaten, despite what the abuser has said
- support them as a friend, encourage them to express their feelings, and allow them to make their own decisions
- do not tell them to leave the relationship or leave home if they’re not ready â that’s their decision
- ask if they have suffered physical harm and if they have, offer to go with them to a hospital or GP
- help them report the assault to the police if they choose to
- be ready to provide information about organisations that offer help for people experiencing domestic abuse
Review Of The Report By The Prosecutor
The written report is sent to the prosecutor, who must then decide if more investigation is necessary or if enough evidence exists to authorize prosecution based on probable cause that a crime has occurred. The evidence must also support that the person cited in the report committed the crime.
The American Bar Association notes that this should not be confused with proving guilt beyond a reasonable doubt, which is a heavier burden to meet and is required for conviction at trial.
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The Prosecution Will Decide Whether The Suspect Faces Charges
Even if the police decide to file charges, this does not mean that suspect will actually face charges. First, the investigator will transfer the case to the criminal and penal prosecuting attorney . The prosecutor then decides whether to formally charge the suspect with a crime. At this point, the suspect officially becomes the accused. After charges are authorized, youll receive a letter with the accuseds name and the charges. This process can take several days, weeks, or even months.
What Happens When Domestic Violence Is Reported
Domestic violence generally refers to the following between people with a familial or personal relationship:
- Physical assault
- False imprisonment
When a police report has been filed for a domestic violence dispute, they must investigate. Officers will usually remove someone from the property where the investigation takes place.
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What Is An Emergency Protection Order
In Alberta, the Protection Against Family Violence Act allows a family member to apply for an Emergency Protection Order . An EPO is a form of restraining order. A judge or justice of the peace can grant an EPO if they are satisfied that family violence has occurred. Family violence includes:
- An intentional or reckless act or omission that causes injury or property damage and that intimidates or harms a family member,
- An act or threatened act that intimidates a family member by creating a reasonable fear of property damage or injury to a family member,
- Forced confinement,
What Do Police Do When There Is A Complaint Of Domestic Violence
Police officers often have limited discretion when they are deciding whether to lay charges. Many police services have formal or informal policies that require charges to be laid whenever a family member tells the police that they have been assaulted by another family member. As a result, when there is an allegation of domestic violence, the accused person will usually be arrested by police, and will usually be charged.
Although the police may ask the family member whether they are interested in proceeding with charges, ultimately, it is not the family members decision whether charges are laid. It is up to the police whether the person is charged, and it is up to the Crown prosecutor whether the charges proceed in court. The police can lay charges even if the family member does not want charges to be filed.
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Is It In The Public Interest To Prosecute
In domestic abuse cases, if the evidential stage of the Code is passed and the complainant is willing to give evidence, it is more likely than not that the decision made will be to prosecute. The guidance in this document should be read in conjunction with the Code.
Where the evidential stage has been met, but the complainant is not willing to support the prosecution, prosecutors should carefully consider the public interest given the domestic nature and serious impacts of such offending. It will be rare for the public interest stage not to be met.
In circumstances where a complainant is not willing to support a prosecution, prosecutors will need to consider the public interest after consideration of other independent evidence which meets the evidential stage. Careful consideration should be given to public interest factors, including the interests and safety of the complainant, other family members and any children or other dependants.
The following factors should be considered as part of the public interest stage of the Code review:
- the seriousness of the offence:
- the more serious the offence, the more likely it is that a prosecution is required
- whether the offence is likely to be repeated
What Is Recanting A Statement And Who Does It
If you make a statement to law enforcement then retract, withdraw, or take back that statement, you are recanting it. Anyone who has made a statement to the police, as a witness to a crime or as the victim of a crime may have a reason for wanting to withdraw that statement.
For example, you may see a robbery being committed at a local liquor store. You tell police officers what you saw. Later, you decide that you dont want to be involved in the incident because you are afraid of the person who perpetrated the crime and are worried that the person will try to get back at you. You go to the police and say that you want to recant your statement.
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What You Can Do If The Police Have Not Helped
All survivors deserve to be believed and supported while planning next steps. If you have contacted the police and not received the help you need, here are some additional steps you can take:
- Talk with a local crisis center/shelter to see how they can help. Many domestic and sexual violence services have developed relationships with law enforcement and can help you navigate that system.
- Ask to speak with a supervisor or commanding officer within your local police department. Again, you can also ask if there is a Victim Services Unit or victim advocate associated with the police department.
- Learn more about your legal rights and find legal help in your area. This can help you continue to advocate for yourself. Womenslaw.org is a good place to start.
Our advocates understand that every persons situation is different, and you must make the decisions that feel right for you. While we are not legal advocates and cannot give specific legal advice, we can help you locate legal resources in your area and brainstorm other options for safety. Call 1-800-799-7233 at any time or chat live via our website 24/7/365.
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