Domestic Violence Cases: What Research Shows About Arrest and Dual Arrest Rates

Published July 25, 2008


Section 1. Domestic Violence Arrest Laws and Policies Today

In the 1970s, women's rights groups and a number of domestic violence lawsuits accusing police of negligence began to have an effect on legislation. Laws were passed to enable police to make arrests in domestic violence incidents without a warrant.

Currently, state laws take one of three approaches to an arrest in domestic violence cases:

  • Arrest is mandatory.
  • Arrest is preferred.
  • Arrest is at the officer's discretion.

Each state also has laws that surround the circumstances in which officers can make an arrest. For instance, laws might say an officer can only make an arrest:

  • In cases of felonies.
  • Within a certain number of hours of the incident.
  • If the couple is married, blood related, living together or has a child together.

Officers' decisions to make an arrest are governed by the policies of their jurisdiction. The policy in a jurisdiction may require more of the police than state law. For example, a state law may say that an arrest is preferred in domestic violence cases, but a jurisdiction may choose to make an arrest mandatory.

For more information on state laws, see:

Date Created: July 25, 2008