What is a Domestic Violence Arrest?

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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: Kristen Osborne
  • Last Modified Date: 08 September 2019
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A domestic violence arrest is the detainment of a person suspected of perpetrating domestic violence. Once arrested, the suspect can be taken to jail and processed before attending a bail hearing. In the bail hearing, a judge will set a bail payment that the suspect can pay in order to be released pending trial. Usually the bail hearing occurs the day after the arrest.

Domestic violence is a crime characterized by abusive behavior directed at intimate partners and children. While men are stereotypically the perpetrators of domestic violence, women are arrested for domestic violence as well. Historically, guidelines on how to respond to reports of domestic violence were inconsistent and often unhelpful. Police might not be able to take the suspect into custody, for example. In response to lobbying from advocates, clear guidelines permitting arrests and spelling out procedures for domestic violence situations began to be issued.

Police officers may respond to reports called in by neighbors or members of the household. If they witness acts of domestic violence or threats, they can make a domestic violence arrest and take the suspect into custody. One problem that has emerged with arrest policies is that sometimes both abuser and victim are taken into custody because police see the victim fighting back and are obliged to make an arrest. A domestic violence arrest can also be made against the wishes of the victim, under the argument that victims may be intimidated.


When a domestic violence arrest is made, police officers must inform the suspect of his rights and they are also required to charge or release the suspect within a set period of time. People cannot be held indefinitely on a domestic violence arrest. Another issue identified with domestic violence arrests is that since the suspect is often released on bail the next day, he or she often returns directly to the household and may resume violent behavior, sometimes retaliating against the victim for the arrest. Victims can file for protective orders but sometimes these legal measures to keep the suspect away take time to process.

Once someone has been detained in a domestic violence arrest, it is advisable for them to secure the services of an attorney. A lawyer can help the suspect navigate the court system and can provide information about the different stages of the trial. When the case proceeds to court, the lawyer will act as the suspect's advocate, providing a defense, questioning witnesses, and working to achieve the best possible outcome for the client.


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