Police Responding to a Domestic Violence Call - Why an Arrest is Often Mandatory in California

Dec 14, 2022

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Domestic violence involves intentional physical force or threats of such force against a current or former spouse, dating partner, family member, or any other household member. Domestic violence is looked upon as a serious crime in California and should not be taken lightly. Getting arrested for domestic violence can not only lead to jail time, but also being subject to restraining orders, as well as the loss of child custody rights and gun rights. 

What happens when the police show up, is an arrest mandatory?

Yes. It is important to understand that California is a “mandatory arrest” state, which means law enforcement officials are required to make an arrest of the dominant aggressor if there is probable cause that any form of domestic violence occurred - whether or not a crime has actually been committed. While probable cause could mean witnessing the act or the presence of visible injuries, probable cause could mean any information that would make a reasonable officer believe a crime was committed.  This is a pretty wide and vague description of probable cause, but it’s the reality. 

California Penal Code 13701 explains further what law enforcement response is to domestic violence and who would be identified as the dominant aggressor: These policies shall discourage, when appropriate, but not prohibit, dual arrests. Peace officers shall make reasonable efforts to identify the dominant aggressor in any incident. The dominant aggressor is the person determined to be the most significant, rather than the first, aggressor. In identifying the dominant aggressor, an officer shall consider the intent of the law to protect victims of domestic violence from continuing abuse, the threats creating fear of physical injury, the history of domestic violence between the persons involved, and whether either person acted in self-defense.

It is important to note, even if an alleged victim decides not to press charges against the alleged abuser, it is up to the prosecutor to decide if the charges should not be filed or dismissed. Domestic violence is very different from other types of crimes, in that, for many crimes the prosecutor will do what the victims’ wants as far as the outcome.

Domestic violence cases are often complex and emotionally overwhelming, which is why having an experienced criminal defense attorney on your side can make a difference. If you have been identified as the dominant aggressor, arrested and charged with domestic violence in Fresno, California or any other area in California’s Central Valley, contact us at once for immediate assistance.

Category: Criminal Cases

Michael Mitchell

Michael Mitchell is a Fresno attorney who practices in the areas of DUI, personal injury & criminal law. Visit his Google+ profile.

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Michael E. Mitchell, at the Mitchell Law Group, Inc., is one of the top DUI defense attorneys in Fresno, California. He has over a decade of experience handling DUI cases throughout the Central Valley, including in Clovis, Madera, Tulare, Visalia. He is a certified field sobriety instructor and practitioner under the standards of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and is a member of the California DUI Lawyers Association. His advice and knowledge is, routinely, sought after by other attorneys practicing in the area of DUI defense. He is an expert in the area of DUI defense in both Federal, State, and on the Appellate level. If you're looking for the best DUI Lawyer in Fresno to handle your case, give us a call today to see how we can put our knowledge to work for you.