A law enforcement officer is required to arrest an individual if the officer has probable cause to believe that the person committed an inter-family offense that resulted in physical injury, pain, or illness, or committed an interfamily offense that was intended to cause reasonable fear of imminent, serious physical injury or death. When this type of arrest occurs it is imperative that the accused consult with a DC domestic violence lawyer as soon as possible so they mitigate the damage and begin preparing a defense.
The existence of probable cause is based on whether a reasonably prudent law enforcement officer believes the accused committed the offense when considering the totality of the circumstances before the officer. If a police officer has probable cause to believe that a person committed an inter-family offense that caused or was intended to cause a reasonable fear in the alleged victim of serious, physical injury or death, the police officer must arrest that person.
Serious, physical injury means any injury that involves a substantial risk of death, unconsciousness, extreme physical pain, disfigurement, or loss or impairment of a bodily member or function.
The alleged victim does not have to actually suffer a serious, physical injury. The alleged victim only had to have a reasonable fear of serious physical injury or the alleged offender had to have intent to cause a reasonable fear of serious, physical injury.
In a domestic violence crime, the people involved are usually connected in close personal relationships or know each other very well. This can make an arrest and the surrounding situation stressful for those involved. The relationships among people involved in other crimes are usually not as close, and sometimes non-existent because they are strangers to one another.
A police officer’s job is to investigate. If someone is arrested for a crime and the police are actively questioning them, they have the right to remain silent until they can consult with a lawyer. It is best for them to resist the urge to explain themselves or their side of the story to minimize the risk of saying something incriminating.
Even if police are not actively questioning the individual, they should not volunteer information because anything they say may be used against them.
If a person has been arrested by law enforcement for a domestic violence crime , the next step in the process will be the prosecutor’s decision whether or not to file charges. In DC, it is referred to as “papering” the case if the prosecutor decides to move forward.
To decide whether or not to paper the case, the prosecutor will review the police reports and possibly speak with the police officers and witnesses involved.
It is important for an individual to consider hiring an experienced lawyer after they have been arrested or become aware of an investigation against them. A lawyer will be able to explain what the person can expect throughout the process and explain the process of a civil case for a protection order if the complaining witness from the criminal case decides to file a petition.
With domestic violence cases, often the people involved are in close relationships which can make the process emotionally taxing. A defense lawyer will be able to guide them through the process and alleviate the burden that the criminal and legal processes will cause.
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