Office for the Prevention of Domestic Violence

Information for Professionals

Criminal Justice

Overview of the Issue

On-Scene Assistance to Victims and Dependants

Elderly and/or Physically Dependant Victims

When a victim of domestic violence is elderly or physically dependent, the accused is the sole caretaker and an arrest is indicated, or when the victim of domestic violence is the sole caretaker of an elder or of a physically dependent person, and the victim can no longer provide care (as, for example, when the victim is hospitalized):

  • Determine whether the elder or physically dependent person is physically endangered, either as a result of the abuse, a preexisting medical condition, or the absence of a caretaker.
  • Ask the elder or physically dependent person for the name of a relative or friend who can be contacted immediately to assist the elder or physically dependent person.
  • Facilitate transportation of the elder or physically dependent person to a relative or friend, if one can be found.
  • Advise the elder or physically dependent person of the availability of protective services through *Adult Protective Services. If there is no one available to assist the elder or physically dependent person, or if the elder or physically dependent person appears not to be mentally alert:
    • Make an emergency referral to Adult Protective Services.
    • Remain at the residence until the Adult Protective Services worker arrives, or
    • Transport the elder or physically dependent person to a medical facility, or other appropriate place where the elder or physically dependent person can wait for the worker.

While the elderly are at particular risk for multiple forms of abuse and neglect by family, acquaintances, caretakers, and others with whom they may have intimate relationships and upon who they may depend for daily care, medication, and basic survival, adult abuse is actually defined to encompass the mistreatment of an impaired adult, age 18 or over, who may be dependent on someone else for basic needs. This often includes individuals who suffer from physical, mental, and/or psychological disabilities and impairments, and any time you suspect such abuse you should assist the potential victim with calling 1-800-342-3009. This phone number will allow you to locate the agency nearest the potential victim so that adult protective services can respond promptly. The Protective Services for Adults program, provided through local county departments of social services, has the legal responsibility to investigate alleged abuse, neglect or exploitation of impaired adults, age 18 and over, who live in the community.

*Adult Protective Service website

Child Victims and Dependants

When the victim of abuse is a minor child:

  • Arrest the accused as applicable under the law, especially if the law enforcement officer observes the commission of a crime.
  • Report to Child Protective Services, as required by Social Service Law § 413
  • If the child is physically injured:
    1. Facilitate the transportation of the child to the nearest hospital for treatment.
    2. Provide the victim notification to an adult caretaker of the child who is not the perpetrator of the abuse.

If the accused is arrested and was the sole caretaker of a child, and/or if the victim is the sole caretaker of a child and can no longer provide care (as, for example, when the victim is hospitalized), or in cases where both caretakers are arrested:

  • Determine whether there is a responsible relative who can care for the child.
  • Contact that relative and await the relative’s arrival.

If no responsible relative is available:

  • Contact Child Protective Services.
  • Remain at the residence until a protective services worker arrives; or
  • Take the child into custody pursuant to the Social Service Law § 417.

For more information and resources, please refer to OPDV’s Child Protective Services/Child Welfare information: