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Domestic Violence - Why Was There an Arrest When Nobody "Pressed Charges"?

Something that everyone seems to always wonder is why someone accused of domestic violence always ends up in jail. It seems that this fact is never fully explained by police officers when they make contact with the defendant and their family. Often times, it is not the defendant (our future client) but rather a family member or even the alleged victim that ends up calling our firm for help. They always wonder why the officer took their loved one into custody regardless of whether the alleged victim is pressing charges or not.

The thing about domestic violence cases is that they are unique animals. Several of the rules that apply to defendants in normal cases, do not apply for a domestic violence defendant. When an officer responds to a report of domestic violence, the decision on whether someone is going to jail or not is already made for them. A "finding of probable cause" is technically necessary for an officer to justify arresting a defendant, but in a domestic violence case, often the phone call to the police alone is enough to get the defendant arrested. So, when the police get to the location of the alleged incident, they are already planning on making an arrest. The legislature has passed a law under the Domestic Violence series of statutes that tells the officer that no matter what the defendant claims really happened, if the victim's version of events amounts to some crime allegedly committed by the defendant, then the crime has probably occurred and a mandatory arrest of the defendant is necessary. It is important to note that no "violence" in particular needs to have occurred. If your domestic partner-or somebody that you have been intimate with in the past or are presently intimate with- merely commits an act against you or your property and that act can be seen as a crime, then a domestic violence crime is charged and your partner is arrested. A domestic violence crime can be anything ranging from violent acts such as assault or destruction of property to economic crimes like theft, ID theft, even ranging down to petty crimes like yelling at each other and harassing each other.

This fact never seems to be explained correctly or thoroughly to defendants who have been charged with Domestic Violence. A better understanding of this simple fact-that often times the officer has no choice at all but to arrest the defendant-would help to dispel some of the harsh feelings and sense of unknown that often accompanies a domestic violence arrest. This knowledge can also hopefully encourage couples who have disagreements to try to work out their differences privately and not try to use the police as a weapon to get their domestic partners arrested if there is no good reason for it.

While we hope you benefit from the information we posted above, it is important to note that we always suggest you contact an attorney to advise you and walk you through the legal process so that you can achieve the best possible result.

This blog was posted by Jeff Wolf, the Senior Associate attorney at Shazam Kianpour & Associates, P.C. You may contact him directly at our law firm at 303-825-1075 or at

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