Do Mandatory Arrest Laws Hurt Domestic Violence Victims?

Twenty-two states throughout the United States have laws that require mandatory arrests when police officers respond to calls of domestic abuse. Ohio is one of these 22 states. Ohio law provides for a preferred arrest policy when there are "reasonable grounds" to believe domestic violence has occurred. When there is probable cause to arrest, however, Ohio requires mandatory arrest in a domestic violence situation.

The rationale behind these types of laws is the belief that mandatory arrest will help reduce the number of domestic violence incidents. A recent study, however, suggests these mandatory laws may actually discourage victims from calling the police to report abuse and violence. Sociologists Dr. Robert Peralta at The University of Akron and Meghan Novitsky of Kent State University conducted a study, "When Women Tell," that analyzed how victim perceptions of mandatory arrest policies, perpetrator substance use, and the presence of children are related to any decisions to invoke assistance from law enforcement.

According to the study, the results suggest "that as victim support for mandatory arrest increases, the odds of law enforcement notification of the abuse also increase." Researchers deduced that mandatory arrest laws might have the effect of reducing the probability of reporting domestic violence among victims who do not support the policy. The effect of mandatory arrest laws might not actually be to reduce the prevalence of domestic violence. The researchers, however, cautioned that more studies should be performed. But Dr. Peralta commented "the intention was good, but a 'one size fits all' approach comes with some problems that need to be looked at."

Ohio's Domestic Violence Protection Orders

In addition to reporting abuse to the police, another method of protection is obtaining a protection order. Under Ohio law, a domestic violence victim, who is a family or household member, can obtain a civil protection order against the abuser who attempts to cause or recklessly causes bodily injury or places another person by the threat of force in fear of imminent serious physical harm. A court may issue a temporary ex parte protection order, which generally last for only 7 to 10 days.

A domestic violence victim can also obtain civil protection order, which may last up to five years. The length and terms of a civil protection order will depend on the facts and circumstances involved in each situation. An experienced Ohio domestic violence attorney can help a victim through this process.

Contact a Cleveland Domestic Violence Attorney

If you have questions regarding Ohio's laws governing domestic violence, the Cleveland domestic violence attorneys at Laubacher & Co. can answer your questions. Our attorneys have a detailed understanding of the legal safeguards in place to protect victims of a violent relationship, and our domestic violence attorneys want to help you take advantage of these legal safeguards. Whether it is obtaining or enforcing a civil protection or restraining order, the Cleveland domestic violence attorneys at Laubacher & Co. will be there to help you throughout the entire process.

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