“Dual arrests” in domestic violence may hurt victims; New laws help with possible consequences

Dual arrests in domestic violence OhioPolice across the country have been making more arrests in domestic violence cases where BOTH parties wind up being arrested. In Ohio, these arrests are termed “dual arrests.” A high number of “dual arrests” were being reported in the state of Connecticut, particularly in the past two years. The figure more than doubled the national average (NBC Connecticut Feb. 13, 2018).

As a result, legislators, police, legal researchers, attorneys and those arrested are taking a deeper look at who is arrested and why in a domestic violence incident.

Additionally, how these arrests affect the victims of domestic violence is an important issue. Many may have been merely defending themselves. (Domestic violence laws are enforced on a state-by-state basis including those states where police are free to make “dual arrests.”)

When a victim of domestic violence is arrested

Sanna Dilawar, a Connecticut mother of an infant daughter, is a case in point of what can happen in a “dual arrest.” (NBC Connecticut, Feb. 13, 2018). After enduring verbal and emotional abuse, Sanna’s relationship with her alleged abuser turned physical.

“He had me pinned up against a wardrobe, punching me. I wasn’t fighting back at first and then something just switched inside of me, that if he’s treating me like this, how is he going to treat our daughter? So, I started fighting back,” Dilawar said.

NBC reported that Dilawar managed to free herself from the assault, grabbed her daughter and drove to the police station to press charges and give a statement. Dilawar told police she had fought back and police told her that unfortunately, by Connecticut law at that time, they had to arrest her. Dilawar was the victim, who was now labeled an offender in a state that did not at the time have a “primary aggressor” provision in its domestic violence law.

Dilawar’s abuser was also arrested and the case against both parties was eventually dismissed, but the damage had already been done to the young mother and others like her who may be reluctant to call police for help if abused in the future. Dilawar and her child could have been endangered by enforcement of the former Connecticut domestic violence statute.

The message sent by law enforcement and the court system is that “the victim is somehow at fault for the abuse,” says David Hirshel in “Explaining the Prevalence, Context, and Consequences of Dual Arrest in Intimate Partner Cases,” (May 2007, unpublished report for the U.S. Department of Justice, Doc.
#218355).

Connecticut is making changes to discourage “dual arrest”

“If victims get arrested, they are further victimized,” claims Connecticut Rep. William Tong (Law & Daily Life website, May 10, 2018}. They face “humiliation, the cost of hiring a lawyer and the prospect of a criminal record .” Tong says the victim could, in a worst case scenario, lose their house and their children due to the arrest . He is one of the legislators who backed a bill to change the law in Connecticut.

Connecticut Governor Daniel Malloy signed that bill in late May 2018. It will require law enforcement in that state to determine which party to a domestic dispute is the “dominant aggressor” – or who initiated the violence . (The law has similarities to domestic violence laws in New York, New Jersey and Massachusetts but each state has unique requirements for making domestic violence arrests.}

Officers in Connecticut will now be discouraged from arresting victims just because they fight back when they are being assaulted.

History of dual arrest cases

Police began to arrest victims an well as aggressors more than 30 years ago, according to the Law & Daily Life website, “Dual Arrests in Domestic Violence May Soon Be Illegal in Connecticut,” May 10, 2018}. There may have been an inability by police to determine the party responsible for the incident or the view that both parties should be treated equally and forced to “cool off.” Whatever the reasons given for arrest, domestic violence victim advocates have long criticized dual arrests claiming that the victim was being further victimized.

Currently, in Ohio, there are few incidents-only about two percent–of dual arrest in domestic violence cases, but statistics show that if a state requires “mandatory arrest,” which Ohio does, more dual arrests are made. (National Institute of Justice (NU.gov, “Arrests Can Be An Effective Intervention for Intimate Partner (Domestic} Violence,” May 18, 2009}. In Connecticut, the dual arrest level had reached 18 percent in intimate partner incidents (ProPublica, “Connecticut Set to End “Dual Arrests” in Domestic Violence Cases,” May 8, 2018}, more than 10 times the national average.

A 207-page Department of Justice (DOJ} report provides in-depth analyses of domestic violence and dual arrest. Titled “Domestic Violence Cases: What Research Shows About Arrest and Dual Arrest Rates,” the report is authored by David Hirshel, who has extensively studied various facets of domestic violence in the nation.

The report covering 10 years of data was commissioned by the National Institute of Justice and is divided into two major parts. Part 1 is a nationwide study of general factors concerning domestic violence arrest. Part 2 is a detailed examination of domestic violence arrests in 479 police departments in-Connecticut, Virginia, Tennessee and Idaho.

The report was published July 25, 2008.

Other views on domestic violence arrest

Overall nationally, domestic violence arrests are significantly fewer when compared to the early 2000s, but the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently reported domestic violence is still an “extremely relevant” issue which has “far-reaching” consequences (U.S. News, October 9, 2015). Also, it is difficult to determine how many cases go unreported.

Domestic violence laws in many states and provisions on dual arrest are faulty in the opinion of expert s. Richard Davis, who holds a degree in criminal justice management (LaSalle University) and a degree in history (Harvard University), gave his view of why increasing police training will not deter domestic violence. On the website, PoliceOne.com, Davis wrote, “By statute law all assaultive acts, regardless of how minor or serious they are, are acts of domestic violence and ideological based domestic violence training cannot change the proper implementation of these laws.”

Davis describes “dual arrest” in domestic violence incidents as a “one-size-fits-all” approach that increases the number of women arrested, especially in the mandatory arrest states. He states that domestic violence victim advocates and public policy makers must recognize the danger in ignoring the dramatic and important difference between incidental and minor violence and chronically violent behavior.”(“Dual arrests and the domestic violence arrests of women,” PoliceOne.com News, April 7, 2005.)

Law enforcement in the 50 states makes domestic violence arrests based on state statute. Three basic methods-1) mandatory arrest, 2) preferred arrest of the “primary” or “dominant aggressor” and 3) discretionary arrest are used. There are, however, many variances in each state’s laws. For example, Massachusetts has a “preferred arrest” law. Officers are encouraged to make an arrest, but are required to do a write-up in dual arrest cases. (ProPublica, May 8, 2018).

Keep in mind that domestic violence laws can be complex and that some states may utilize a blend of the methods mentioned above. Secondly, in the past “domestic violence” was something the law generally defined as violence occurring between domestic partners, relatives or family members who were living together or who had lived together in the recent past.

Today the definition of a domestic living arrangement and the status of family and intimate relationships has vastly changed for many persons and the information about those relationships that the police can gather at the scene of an incident may be limited.

Additionally, responding to domestic violence calls can be dangerous for the police. A report in The Guardian Weekly on July 31, 2016 summarized a DOJ report which said of 210 police deaths from 2010 to 2014, forty percent were in response to a domestic call or disturbance, at least initially.

How are domestic violence arrests analyzed?

Domestic violence arrests in the United States are tracked by the National Incident-Based Reporting System (NIBRS), an arm of the U.S. Department of Justice. More than 91 years ago in 1927, the International Association of Chiefs of Police began publishing data on eight crimes occurring in the U.S. Domestic violence was not one of the crimes tracked.

There was no information collected about the most commonly reported type of simple assault-­ domestic violence offenses. At that time the system was known as Uniform Crime Reports (UCR).

In the 1980’s the FBI revised the UCR and named it the National Incident-Based Reporting System (NIBRS). In 1991, the system began to track 46 crimes and recorded very detailed information about them including information about any arrests in each incident. Simple assault was among the 46 crimes tracked. Over the years, the NIBRS has revealed much information about domestic violence and dual arrests and many other types of criminal activity. (David Hirsche!, “Domestic Violence Cases: What Research Shows About Arrest and Dual Arrest Rates,” July 25, 2008)

What to do if you are arrested for domestic violence, or if you are a victim of domestic violence or if it was a “dual arrest”

If you have been involved in domestic violence, you are encouraged to contact an experienced attorney who is versed in both criminal and civil domestic violence cases.

Even if you are told a domestic violence charge is “only a misdemeanor,” or that you do not need a lawyer, do not fail to realize that a misdemeanor domestic violence conviction or a domestic violence felony charge may not be viewed positively by an employer or even a potential future partner. Social media makes all of us an open book, whether we prefer to be or not, and information on someone’s background and arrest history are usually easily accessible to others.

At Slater & Zurz LLC, the domestic relations attorneys will review your case and any charges against you. The matter may ultimately be determined by a judge, but there are many factors that can affect how the prosecutor sees the case. Having an attorney by your side who knows Ohio law on domestic violence is extremely helpful when results of a case may affect you for the rest of your life.

Give Slater & Zurz LLC a call today at 888-534-4850 and ask for an attorney to assist you with a domestic violence case. You can also go to the law firm’s website at www.slaterzurz.com and have a “live” chat, or send an e-mail to an attorney concerning your situation.

Whether you are the victim or the person charged, you must not delay in retaining representation by deciding that you will see what happens in court. You need to retain representation soon after the incident so your attorney can do the best job of getting the best results for you.

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