Domestic Violence Criminal Proceedings

Victims of domestic violence should immediately call their local police for assistance. Any physical evidence of the violence should be kept for the police. Once the police are called on a domestic violence incident, they will interview all persons involved and arrest the batterer when possible and obtain medical aid for the victim when necessary. The Los Angeles Police Department will assist the victim to obtain an emergency protective order and if needed will assist you in leaving your residence with your children and personal belongings. The Los Angeles police officer will then write a report and send it to either the City Attorney’s Office for misdemeanors or the District Attorney’s Office for felonies. If the prosecutor feels there is enough evidence, the case will be filed.Note: The victim also has the option of contacting the investigating officer and requesting that a criminal complaint be filed.

The victim becomes a witness for the State and unlike civil court, cannot decide whether or not to prosecute or “press charges. This means that the State may prosecute even when the victim does not want to prosecute. This policy is in effect so that a batterer will learn that coercing or scaring a victim into requesting that charges be dropped is not an effective means of avoiding criminal sanctions. Studies have shown that the best protection for a survivor of domestic abuse is generally through court intervention.

Once a criminal case is filed, a victim should contact the Deputy District Attorney, Deputy City Attorney, Detective, or a victim advocate to get an explanation of the criminal process and to be updated on the status of the case.

A violation of the restraining order is a misdemeanor and should be reported to the police immediately. Remember that all further threats, restraining order violations, or acts of violence should be reported to the police and the prosecutor.

Be aware that even if an arrest is made or the offender is in custody, that person could possibly be released at any time.