Page 10 - 2011 Guide to Family Violence Laws

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What happens when the police are
Most police departments clearly
understand the importance of
responding quickly to calls about
domestic violence. The first thing
police officers must do when they
arrive is to make sure that no
further injury will occur.
The police must then gather facts
about what happened so that they
can decide what to do. They may
talk to anyone who was part of the
incident, or who witnessed or
heard the incident. They will look
to see if there is any "physical
evidence," such as bruises or blood
on a person, torn clothing, or
broken dishes or furniture. Based
on what the officers hear or see,
and the witnesses' and victims'
statements, they will decide if a
crime has been committed and
whether anyone should be
Will the police remove my
partner from my home?
If your partner has no legal right to
be at your home, the police are
likely to tell him to leave, whether
or not he is arrested. But if your
partner does have the legal right to
be at your home (see page 51
about who has a right to live with
you) then the police will only
remove your partner if there is a
court order saying he can't be
there, or if they make a custodial
arrest, which is explained later on
page 6.
If you are not sure whether your
partner has a legal right to be at
your home, you should talk to a
When will the police make an
Sometimes the police will arrest a
person when they come to the
scene; sometimes they will arrest
him later, and sometimes never.
In almost all family violence cases,
the police must arrest anyone they
believe has committed a crime,
based on the facts.
The facts that the police will look
at may include what the people
involved say happened, what any
witnesses say, what injuries can
be seen, or whether there is any
other evidence of threats or
physical fighting. An arrest can be
made based simply on a reliable
statement from a victim or
witness, even without physical
evidence or visible injuries. If,
based on the facts, it is more likely
than not that a person has
committed a crime, then there is
"probable cause" to make the