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Probable Cause For A Domestic Violence Arrest

Interviewer: What's considered probable cause when the police are called out to a domestic violation situation?

David: Probable cause is evidence that actual crimes have occurred and evidence that makes it more probable than not to a reasonable person, if you will, that the individual about to be arrested actually has committed the crime.

A Victim Having a Noticeable Physical Injury Would Be Defined as Probable Cause

Interviewer: Such as marks or bruises on the other person?

David: Correct. What usually occurs when the police are called out is that two or more police officers will arrive and the first thing they will do is separate the individuals. The two different police officers will talk to the two individuals separately and then the two police will then have a small caucus, if you will, where they compare notes and then they make a judgment as to whether a crime has occurred.

If a crime has occurred, they'll make a judgment as to whether probable cause exists to believe that someone has actually committed a domestic violence offense in which case the individual gets arrested.

Establishing probable Cause: At the Scene of a Domestic Violence Incident, the Police Will Look for Evidence of Alcohol Consumption and Physical Injury

The types of actions they look for would be, for example, they show up at a house and the people at that point have calmed down to some extent, but maybe, they're still animated. Frequently, alcohol will be involved and the individuals will be impaired and that will be obvious to the police.

What they look for would be a bruise wouldn't necessarily surface that quickly, but what they do look for would be cuts, would be obviously blood is obviously something that would almost mandate and arrest at that point. They basically look for actual evidence supporting one person's story or the other. They also look for objects at the scene that might be broken.

If the Police Find Evidence of Broken Objects at the Scene but Do Not Find Evidence of Physical Injury, They Can Make an Arrest for Criminal Mischief

In many domestic violence cases, people would throw things during the pushing and shoving and knock a chair down or break a lamp. If they find that type of evidence that suggests a recent altercation that resulted in furniture being knocked down, if they find broken plates or vases, then they could bring forward a charge of criminal mischief against whoever broke it, even if they cannot establish that somebody assaulted the other person. Criminal mischief is one of the short lists of crimes for which a domestic violence arrest can occur.

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David Horan, Attorney at Law
212 Coolidge Avenue
Manchester, NH 03102
Phone: 603-483-3417
Toll Free: 800-737-3809
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