Office for the Prevention of Domestic Violence

Information for Professionals

Criminal Justice

Overview of the Issue

Procedure When An Arrest is Not Authorized (Or, if Authorized, is not Made)

If law enforcement is unable to find probable cause that a crime was committed or that an Order of Protection was violated by assessing all the facts and circumstances, law enforcement should assist the victim in developing a safety plan and refer the victim to community resources, such as a local domestic violence or victim assistance program.

If an arrest is not authorized because of the absence of probable cause to believe that a crime was committed, or if arrest is authorized but not made (for reasons to be included in the domestic incident report), the responding officer(s) should:

  1. Explain to the victim the reasons that an arrest is not being made.
  2. Articulate in the report a clear statement of the reasons for not arresting and detaining the alleged offender.
  3. Advise the victim of the applicability of criminal laws, procedures for filing a criminal complaint, the availability of a petition for an Order of Protection, the procedures for filing a petition, and the remedies an order may contain.
  4. Encourage the victim to contact the nearest available domestic violence program for information regarding services available to victims of domestic violence.
  5. Advise the victim that you will provide transportation for or facilitate transportation of the victim to a shelter or the appropriate court when reasonable cause exists to believe that the victim suffered or is likely to suffer physical injury.
  6. Provide for the safety of the parties when ordered to accompany one or both of the parties to obtain personal property or other items from a location, including temporary possession of motor vehicles owned by either or both of the parties.
  7. If the alleged perpetrator is on Probation or Parole, contact the appropriate department/division as soon as possible to inform them of the incident so they can respond according to internal policy.
  8. Document in writing all reports of alleged incidents of violations of protection orders and domestic violence.
  9. Document in writing all observations of the victim and the alleged offender, any visible injuries of the victim or alleged offender, any weapons at the scene, the actions of the alleged offender, any statements made by the victim or witnesses, and any other significant facts or circumstances.