California prosecutes thousands of domestic violence cases every year. In some cases, it is a clear-cut situation where one person has intentionally abused, manipulated and physically injured another.
Other times, domestic violence scenarios are more complex. Partners who have an intense relationship might both scream at and even physically lash out toward one another. There are also situations where a couple would not have involved police but their neighbors make a call because they worry about the potential for violence.
If police officers show up to a domestic violence call, the potential exists for you or your intimate partner to wind up arrested. How do police determine who to arrest and whether to prosecute a domestic violence case?
The situation when the police arrive informs their decision
Police officers responding to domestic violence calls have to make quick judgments based on circumstances as they see them. Questions that guide officers in these scenarios include:
- Have there been multiple previous calls to this household?
- Does either partner have a pre-existing criminal record for domestic violence?
- Is one of the people present obviously distressed, frightened or severely injured?
- Are both parties equally harmed, or has one person suffered substantially more harm than the other?
- Does either person have a serious traumatic injury because of the conflict?
Officers will have to consider all of these factors, statements made by neighbors and other witnesses, and what you and your partner both say when they show up at your home.
In some situations, they may just ask for one of the two of you to leave for the night. Other times, they may make an arrest if they feel that the evidence makes it clear that violence occurred and one party has legal responsibility, even if neither person wants an arrest to occur.
Can the state prosecute you without the victim’s cooperation?
In some cases, California prosecutors do choose to pursue criminal charges in domestic violence cases even when the victim says they don’t want to prosecute. Factors such as the severity of the injury, previous arrests and the situation when police arrive will all influence whether prosecutors want to pursue the case or not.
Defending against domestic violence allegations is often important for your future, as a conviction could affect everything from your right to stay in your home to your employment. Talking about the situation that led to your arrest with an experienced criminal defense attorney can give you a better idea of how to respond to domestic violence charges.