A Domestic Assault Case – From 911 Call To Arrest

The vast majority of domestic violence charges originate with 911 calls.

Such a call can be a report of an assault or even just a threat of an assault. The call is usually made in hope and expectation of getting some assistance. When a 911 call reports an incident of domestic violence, a series of events are set in motion.

In Ontario, police forces have domestic violence protocols or directives, meaning that when a call comes in, certain processes are put in motion and the officers are directed to do certain things. The first thing they are directed to do is send at least two and preferably three police officers in separate cruisers. The courts have determined that the public interest dictates that the police have the authority to enter the place from which the 911 call originated, which means this is an exception to the general rule that the police need either an invitation or a warrant to get into a dwelling. In the case of a 911 call, they are vested with the authority to enter and can enter without a warrant.

After the police arrive, one officer attends to the male, one officer attends to the female, and the third officer attends to any children that may be in the house. If there are children present, the Children’s Aid Society is called to determine if the children are in need of protection.

The next police directive that is relevant is that in the case of such a call someone must be arrested. The immediate purpose of that directive is to diffuse the situation that they find there. In order to arrest someone, the police have to have reasonable grounds to believe that an offense was committed. The question is how do they get those reasonable grounds to believe an offense was committed?

The grounds, normally, come from a statement by the complainant. An officer takes the statement from that person who describes what has happened, and at that point, the police have reasonable grounds to believe an offense was committed. They may also look at physical evidence and if there is any property damage or anything broken.

Once the police have reasonable grounds to believe an offense was committed, they can lawfully arrest the person complained of. They do not usually speak to other witnesses at this time. The police will take the complainant to the police station, as well, to take her statement on video tape and then photograph her injuries. They will conduct a background enquiry of any prior violence and, also, try to asses the potential for future violence.

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If you, or someone you care about, is dealing with criminal law issues in the Newmarket, Ontario Region, contact Hobson & Reeve Barrsiters for a consultation.

This article is taken from a October 10, 2007 interview with Dennis J. Reeve LL.B., Criminal Lawyer with Hobson & Reeve, Newmarket, Ontario Criminal Lawyers. Note that laws vary from province to province. Please consult with a lawyer in your own area to be sure of the laws and specific issues in your own jurisdiction.