Domestic Violence and Mandatory Charging Policies

In News by northernlaw

Charges of domestic violence are perhaps surprisingly common, even when couples involved would prefer to avoid them. Many charges are laid because our laws and policies require police officers who receive a report to file charges, without first exercising their usual discretion, on the theory that dangerous escalation could follow initial reports. When the charges reach the courts, prosecutors are likewise bound to pursue them to conviction if possible. All involved should understand that charges may be pursued, even over a complainant’s objections.

What is domestic violence? In the criminal justice system, domestic violence does not necessarily involve physical violence to any person. Any criminal charge that involves a complainant or victim who had or currently has an intimate relationship with the accused will be treated as a charge of domestic violence. The most common charges in this category include Mischief (property damage) and Assault.

Once charged, the accused is routinely prohibited from having any contact with the complainant, even by phone or text, and will face new charges if prohibited communications come to light. Even when a complainant wishes for contact, it is routinely prohibited, at least temporarily.

Custodial arrests are possible and permitted by law, but most people charged in domestic violence cases are quickly released with directions to appear in court, and abide by conditions, such as staying away from the complainant and the complainant’s home and/or work (including places the accused would normally need to go).

If police contact you concerning a case or charge that involves your spouse or partner, or a former partner, it is best to contact a lawyer for representation, and generally not to discuss the matter with police, or anyone else, until you obtain legal advice.

If you have questions about a domestic violence case, Northern Law LLP is happy to offer experienced counsel to assist you. Contact us today at 705-222-0111 or