Despite aggressive, nationwide awareness campaigns over the last several decades, domestic violence and intimate partner abuse continue to plague families throughout Connecticut and across the country. Tragically, millions of people suffer abuse at the hands of a spouse, partner, or another family member each year, and an alarmingly large number of victims are hesitant or simply refuse to seek help. Sometimes, however, a domestic violence victim will have the courage to call the police, hoping that law enforcement will help resolve the problem at hand. The police arrive and arrest the alleged abuser—then proceed to arrest the victim as well. This is known as a “dual arrest,” and the rate of such arrests in Connecticut is nearly 10 times higher than the national average.
The Problems of Mandatory Arrest
Connecticut is one of 22 states with laws that require police to make an arrest when they respond to a domestic violence call. In theory, mandatory arrest laws are intended to protect victims of abuse by eliminating the need for officers to make a judgment call on the scene. But in practice, such laws have unintended consequences. Studies suggest that many victims fear additional retaliation from their abusers following a call to a police and mandatory arrest, which means mandatory arrest laws may actually be reducing calls for help.
The other side of the equation deals with the police deciding which party to arrest. Connecticut law makes an arrest mandatory but—unlike such laws in other states—does not require police to attempt to identify the “primary aggressor.” As a result, responding officers often arrest both parties in a domestic violence incident, leaving prosecutors and judges to work out the details.
Comparing Dual Arrest Rates
Throughout the United States, dual arrests are made in only about 2 percent of incidents of reported intimate partner violence. When a domestic violence arrest is made in Connecticut, a dual arrest is made about 18 percent of the time. In some Connecticut towns, the rate exceeds 35 percent. Compared to the national average, the numbers in Connecticut are astronomical.
The problem with dual arrest is multi-faceted. As more and more people become aware of the practice, victims learn that calling the police places them in danger of being arrested too, giving them yet another reason to remain silent and endure the abuse. The other issue is that victims who are arrested with their abusers must spend time, energy, and often money on defending against their own charges rather than focusing on healing and finding a safer environment.
A Compassionate Defense Attorney Can Help
Efforts by various groups to amend the state’s approach to domestic violence have been underway for some time, but until the law is changed dual arrests are likely to complicate even more lives. If you are a victim of domestic abuse who has been arrested along with your abuser, contact an experienced Hartford criminal defense attorney. At Woolf Law Firm, LLC, we understand the challenges you may be facing and are ready to provide the compassionate representation you need. Call [[phone1]] for a free consultation today.