How Police Investigate Domestic Violence in New Jersey
NJ Domestic Violence Lawyers Serving Hackensack, New Brunswick, Jersey City, and throughout New Jersey
When law enforcement officials receive a call about a domestic dispute in New Jersey, they will respond to the scene to investigate the incident. Upon arrival, officers follow a number of steps to determine what happened, who the victim is, who the perpetrator is, and whether or not to make an arrest. If you’re one of the parties involved in a domestic violence investigation in NJ, it is imperative to understand your rights. At The Tormey Law Firm, our New Jersey domestic violence attorneys have extensive experience handling restraining orders and criminal charges for domestic violence brought against our clients. With offices located in Hackensack, Newark, Morristown, and Collingswood, we consistently appear in courts throughout New Jersey, including in Bergen County, Morris County, Essex County, Middlesex County, and Camden County. When you are accused of domestic violence, we comb through the results of the police investigation and work with you to accumulate all of the evidence we can to support your case. We thoroughly understand the standards of proof necessary at a restraining order trial and how these compare with criminal proceedings. Whether we are representing you at an FRO hearing, in a criminal case, or in both matters, we zealously fight to protect your interests. For a free consultation about your New Jersey domestic violence case, contact us today at (908)-336-5008 or submit an online contact form.
Investigation of Domestic Violence in New Jersey
There is a specific checklist for police upon arrival at a domestic violence scene in New Jersey. First and foremost, they must determine the location and condition of the victim and find out if the suspect is still at the scene. Sometimes, the victim is the person who made the call. Other times, a witness, neighbor, or third party will reach out to police about a potential domestic incident. When they arrive, officers may not know who the victim is. Their primary goals are to:
- Check the well being and physical condition of all parties;
- Determine what, if any, criminal offense occurred;
- Determine if any weapon was involved; and
- Ensure rapid medical assistance if anyone is injured.
Below is a more comprehensive list of the steps involved during a police investigation at a domestic violence scene.
Interviews and Statements
During their preliminary investigation at a domestic violence scene, officers will:
- Interview the suspected victim and suspect separately
- Ask the suspected victim if there is history of abuse
- If there are children at scene, interview them separately
- Distinguish between the primary aggressor and the victim if both parties are injured
- Note and document the emotional and physical condition of all parties involved
- Note the demeanor of the suspect
- Note any torn clothing on both parties
- If the victim is a woman, note smeared makeup
- Look for any signs of injury on victim
- Write down any spontaneous statements made by any of the parties present
Officers will also inquire about any pending or effective court orders. This means they must determine if the victim has a temporary restraining order or permanent restraining order. They will also find out if the suspect has been served a TRO and/or if a final hearing is scheduled. Lastly, police will check to see if the suspect is in violation of a restraining order.
In order to identify and document any signs of domestic abuse at the scene, officers will:
- Record the condition of the scene
- Document any evidence of substance abuse
- Photograph damaged property
- Identify firearms and other weapons on the premises
- Photograph and diagram injuries of the victim and suspect
After completing their investigation of a domestic violence incident, police must draft a report. They are instructed to maintain complete objectivity when creating this document and to avoid providing their personal opinions about the people or circumstances involved. Officers must report the details obtained during their investigation, not their conclusions about what happened. The incident report must include any criminal offenses involved and detailed descriptions of these acts. It will also include documentation of any injuries sustained by the victim or the suspect, any past history of violence, any spontaneous statements made by either party, and if weapons were seized, the reasons why they were removed for safekeeping.
Get our New Jersey Domestic Violence Attorneys on Your Side Today
If you are the subject of a domestic violence investigation in New Jersey, you have a lot on the line and so much to lose. Protecting your rights and your reputation should be at the forefront of your mind. Don’t delay in finding out how you can fight the allegations against you.
Contact the experienced NJ domestic violence attorneys at The Tormey Law Firm for a free consultation. Call (908)-336-5008 for immediate assistance.
With multiple offices located throughout the state, we are available immediately to assist you over the phone and are happy to schedule an appointment at the office most convenient for you.