The Division of Criminal Justice has published guidelines for police response procedures in domestic violence cases. When it comes to the issue of whether or not a suspect will be arrested, the guidelines state that in certain circumstances the police officer must arrest the suspect and in other circumstances the police officer has discretion to arrest the suspect. We will deal with each situation individually.

Mandatory Arrest 

The guidelines published by the New Jersey Division of Criminal Justice state that police officers must arrest and take into custody a domestic violence suspect if two criteria are met. Those criteria are:

1. The officer has probable cause to believe an act of domestic violence has occurred and

2. The victim exhibits signs of injury caused by an act of domestic violence, or states that an injury has occurred but is not visible and the officer considers other factors in determining whether there is probable cause to make an arrest.

A police officer must also make a arrest if a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) is already in place and has been violated, if a warrant is in place for the suspect, or if a weapon is used.

In situations where it is not immediately apparent to the officer which party is the victim and which is the suspect the officer is directed to consider the following criteria:

1. The comparative extent of injuries suffered;

2. The history of domestic violence between the parties, if any;

3. The presence of wounds associated with defense, or considered defensive wounds;

4. other relevant factors, including checking the DV Central Registry.

Discretionary Arrest

In situations in which any of the above criteria do not apply, the officer has discretion to make an arrest, sign a criminal complaint, or both so long as there is probable cause to believe that an act of domestic violence has been committed.

If you are facing legal issues regarding domestic violence in New Jersey contact the Law Office of Matthew B. Lun, Esq. at 609-964-0900 for more information or a free consultation.