Understanding Mandatory Domestic Violence Arrest Policies

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Mandatory arrest policies aim to reduce the harmful consequences of domestic violence by requiring officers to make an arrest if they have probable cause to believe domestic violence has occurred. While some see these as a way to deter domestic violence, others argue they may actually increase harm in some cases. This article will examine mandatory domestic violence arrest laws, how they impact police, victims, and the accused, as well as when a domestic assault attorney can help.

The Purpose of Mandatory Arrest Laws

Mandatory arrest laws were enacted with the goal of reducing harm and providing protection for victims of domestic violence. Prior to these laws, police officers often treated domestic violence incidents as private matters and were hesitant to make arrests, even when there was evidence of abuse. This approach allowed the cycle of violence to continue unchecked.

By requiring arrests in domestic violence cases, the laws aim to:

  1. Send a clear message that domestic violence is a crime and will not be tolerated.
  2. Provide immediate safety for the victim by removing the alleged abuser from the situation.
  3. Facilitate access to resources such as shelters, counseling, and legal advocacy for the victim.
  4. Hold offenders accountable by initiating the criminal justice process.

How Mandatory Arrest Laws Work in Georgia

In Georgia, the Family Violence Act (O.C.G.A. § 19-13-1) defines domestic violence as certain offenses committed against a current or former spouse, parent, child, foster child, or other individuals living or formerly living in the same household. These offenses include battery, simple battery, assault, stalking, criminal damage to property, and more.

Under Georgia law, if a law enforcement officer has probable cause to believe that an act of family violence has occurred, the officer is required to make an arrest. This applies even if the victim does not wish to press charges or if the incident occurred in the past.

It’s important to note that probable cause is a lower standard than the “beyond a reasonable doubt” threshold required for a conviction. Officers must make an arrest if they have a reasonable belief that a domestic violence offense has occurred, based on the available evidence and circumstances.

Concerns Over Mandatory Arrest Laws

While mandatory arrest laws aim to protect victims, reduce abuse, and reinforce that domestic violence is unacceptable, concerns exist over applying them broadly.

Potential to Increase Violence

Some studies found mandatory arrest laws may actually increase violence in certain cases. Abusers released shortly after arrest may retaliate against victims. Seeing their abuser arrested against their will could also deter some victims from seeking help in the future.

High Number of Dual Arrests

In 9% of cases, police arrest both parties involved. Laws requiring police to make arrests may prompt them to arrest both victim and abuser. Yet victims may act violently to protect themselves or due to a history of abuse. Bringing criminal charges against a battered victim compounds trauma.

Disproportionate Impact

Low-income and marginalized victims suffer disproportionately. An arrest can mean the loss of jobs, homes, or custody. And prosecution rates remain low, raising questions over the value of mandatory arrest rules.

False Accusations

Good laws designed to protect victims can be misused. False accusations of domestic violence occur during heated divorces or custody disputes. Mandatory arrests in these situations unnecessarily pull innocent people into the justice system.

What to Do If You’re Facing Domestic Violence Charges

If police allege you committed domestic violence, you should invoke your right to remain silent and speak to a criminal defense lawyer immediately. An attorney can help defend against the charges and advocate for your rights.

A knowledgeable lawyer will examine all the evidence against you, interview witnesses, and look for any procedural problems with how the investigation was handled. They may be able to get charges reduced or dismissed through effective representation.

In Georgia, a domestic violence lawyer in Cherokee County can also help you understand the mandatory arrest policies in your jurisdiction and build the strongest defense possible against the allegations. Don’t go through this alone – consult an attorney today.

Protect Your Rights with a Cherokee County Domestic Violence Lawyer

The compassionate domestic violence lawyers in Cherokee County have helped many local young adults and teens handle family violence cases productively. We know these sensitive situations and allegations require experienced yet understanding guidance.

To explore your options with a domestic assault attorney, contact our firm for a free case review. Backed by five-star client reviews, we have the skills and dedication to secure the best outcome at this difficult time.

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