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All domestic violence is not criminal. What if it is?
As part of the Oxford County Domestic Violence Task Force Wait! What? series, let’s take a look at some information about domestic violence and law enforcement's response.
The intimidation, emotional abuse, isolation and other patterns of behavior used to control someone in a domestic violence relationship may not always meet the criminal/statute definition of abuse. Law enforcement, as part of the coordinated community effort, is often called to respond to complaints of domestic violence.
The role of law enforcement is to provide a safe environment for everyone while determining if a crime has been committed and if so, who the most significant or principle aggressor is. Some examples of a domestic violence crime are - assault, criminal threatening, stalking, reckless conduct, and/or obstructing the report of a crime.
After speaking with all persons involved which include the alleged victim, alleged suspect, and any witnesses, if a crime of domestic violence is substantiated the predominant aggressor will be arrested.
Law enforcement will ensure any medical treatment that may be needed and can assist in finding a place to stay.
The victim of this crime is then provided information for contacting Safe Voices (formerly Abused Women Advocacy Project) for information, support, resources and assistance filing a protection from abuse order with the court.
Bail conditions are placed on the person arrested, prohibiting contact with the victim. The victim is notified if/when the suspect makes bail.
It is the state's District Attorney’s role to pursue criminal charges against the individual arrested, because often times the victim has been threatened about working with the legal system.
The arresting police agency and the domestic violence investigator will conduct follow up checks to reduce the victims’ isolation, ensure they are safe, check that bail conditions are being complied with, that the suspect is not having any contact or attempting to intimidate/coerce the victim and to reduce the seriousness of and/or help prevent future incidents.
The domestic violence investigator will continue to provide assistance in the protection order process and security during these hearings.
Know that local law enforcement is there for you when you are ready. Any victim, relative, friend or concerned community member can report abuse to Law Enforcement and seek help or support from Safe Voices by calling the free and confidential 24-hour helpline at 1-800-559-2927 or at www.safevoices.org.
For more information, contact your local law enforcement agency or 911 for emergencies.