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Can Law Enforcement Officers come into my house if the doors are locked?

If the officers reasonably believe there is a crime in progress, or that a person may be in danger, they can come into the house even if the door is locked.

Will they arrest my partner?

If the officers determine there is probable cause to believe that you have been assaulted, and that your partner is the one who assaulted you, they are generally required to arrest him.

What is Probable Cause?

Probable Cause means that the facts known to the officer would lead a reasonable person to believe that a person has committed, or is committing an offense. In the case of domestic violence, the officer will make an arrest if he or she sees that there has been recent bodily injury to the alleged victim, such as scratches, red marks or bruising.  

In other words, if the officer can see that you have been injured in some way and believes that your partner caused the injury, your partner will be arrested.

Can they arrest my partner even if i don't want them to?

Yes, if they have probable cause to do so, he will be arrested.

Will I have to leave my home?

You will not be forced to leave your home. However, if the officers believe you are in danger, they may try to persuade you to leave temporarily for your own safety. You may choose whether to leave or not.

Can they help me remove some of my personal things if I have to leave my home?

The officer may help you remove a limited number of personal items from your home. Usually they will ask you to take only what you will need to get by for a few days.

What happens to my children if they arrest my partner and I have to go to the hospital?

If there is no one available to care for your children (such as a relative, neighbor, or friend), a child protection worker will be called and your children may be placed in foster care until you are able to care for them again.

Can they arrest both of us?

When both of you say that you have been assaulted, the officer shall evaluate each complaint separately and must consider various factors, including the severity of injuries involved, any history of domestic violence, and the likelihood of future harm. If they determine that both of you have committed an assault they can arrest both of you. If the officers determine that other crimes have also occurred, such as disorderly contact or possession of drug paraphernalia, they may arrest the person responsible.

Will the officers arrest my partner if I ask them to?

They will arrest him only if they have probable cause to do so. If probable cause does not exist, they cannot arrest him simply because you ask them to. However, you can report the incident to law enforcement and ask that your report be forwarded to the prosecutor and reviewed for a charge. (See section below entitled, “What If They Don’t Arrest Him?”)

What if I can't call law enforcement when the incident happens but I still want to report it to the police ?

If your partner prevents you from calling law enforcement, or if it is not safe to do so at the time of the incident, you can report it later. You should do so as soon as possible to allow law enforcement to conduct a proper investigation. If, at the time you report the incident, the officer determines probable cause, the officer has 12 hours in which to find and arrest your partner without a warrant. If he is not found and arrested within the 12 hours, the officer has to get a warrant for his arrest.

Do I have any other legal options?

Yes. If you fear you are in danger of being assaulted again by your partner, you may apply for a court order called a Protection Order. This order prevents your partner from threatening, molesting, injuring, harassing, or having any contact with you. The staff at Safe Shelter can answer any questions you may have about this order.