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Ohio Domestic Violence Arrest

It is the Ohio Legislature who in 2003 determined to strengthen domestic violence laws.  The concept employed was a major change in jurisprudence.  The law has been undergoing ongoing changes since its introduction.

The requirements on the police

Ohio Revised Code section 2935.032 contains what is required by a law enforcement officer responding to a report of domestic violence.  That section does three things.  First, it makes it a crime should the police officer not follow that law.  Second, it demands an arrest unless the officer can't justify such an arrest.  Third, the word of the alleged victim is enough to cause that arrest.

All law enforcement agencies have policies based on this law.  The law requires it.  In general, they demand that when an officer is called to the scene of a domestic violence he or she must do something like the following:

  • Determine if there is probable cause to believe that domestic violence occurred.

  • Interview all witnesses.

  • Arrest the aggressor.

  • If both parties are fighting then either

    • If a felonious assault occurred, the officer may arrest the person committing the felonious assault, whether the primary aggressor or not, or

    • If a primary aggressor can be identified, arrest the primary aggressor, or

    • If no primary aggressor can be identified, the officer must document the event.

      • The agency then sends that report to a prosecutor who may rule to make an arrest.

What if I didn't want an arrest?

It matters not.  Even if the alleged victim does not wish the aggressor to be arrested, the law requires it.

Why was I forced to sign a complaint?

A complaint is a paper that specifies to the court the charges against the defendant.  In most cases law enforcement will put a great deal of pressure on the alleged victim to charge the aggressor.  We have seen instances where the police officer threatened to take the children and put them into the custody of the state unless the alleged victim signed the complaint.

The law demands an arrest.  If the victim won't sign the complaint, the officer signs it.  Why threaten and cajole the alleged victim?  Most often this is the officer trying to keep away from the complaint as if the officer signs it, he or she normally must testify as to the facts that provided the probable cause for the arrest.  If the alleged victim can be convinced to sign it, the officer is relieved from that responsibility.  It is then less likely the officer will be involved in the initial stages of the prosecution.

Why was the defendant held without bond?

In almost all cases a domestic violence arrest is accompanied by a Temporary Protection Order or TPO.  A TPO requires the defendant be held until he or she can be brought before a judge.

A TPO, like a complaint, can be signed by either the alleged victim or the law enforcement officer.  Again, there might have been extraordinary pressure applied to the alleged victim in an attempt to get him or her to sign the TPO.  I have seen officers who threaten to remove custody of the minor children unless the alleged victim signs.  If the officer can convince the alleged victim into signing the TPO, the officer then is relieved for justifying his or her reason for the TPO.

When will the defendant get to see a judge?

The defendant will get to see the judge at the next opportunity the court has to have such a hearing.  Typically, it is the court's next regular business day.  Sometimes that is delayed due to the judge not being available or other reasons.  You have no control over when the defendant will be seen.  This delay can be quite long in the event of a holiday weekend.

Must the alleged victim be present when the defendant is seen by the judge?

The alleged victim must do his or her very best to get to court.  The court may require attendance.

The court wants as much information as it can get to make the decision regarding the fate of the defendant.  The court wants the alleged victim in court.  However, in the absence of the alleged victim, the court will proceed with the testimony of the arresting officer, any officer or, if it has to, ex parte or on its own. 

What happens at the hearing?

The hearing is called an "arraignment".  During that hearing, the charges are read and the defendant is told of his or her rights.  This includes the right to an attorney (CALL ME!), the right to a trial, a trial by jury, that the state must prove its case and the defendant need not testify, that the defendant may subpoena witnesses and if those witnesses refuse, to force the witnesses in.  More information is available on my arraignment page.

The defendant will be either given the opportunity to obtain a continuance to consult with an attorney (CALL ME!) or can plead guilty, no contest or not guilty.  No contest means the defendant does not dispute the facts and recognizes a summary finding of guilty will follow.  Normally, the defendant either pleads not guilty or gets a continuance to consult with an attorney.

Bond will be set to insure the defendant returns to answer the charges.

The court will then entertain a motion for a temporary protection order (TPO).  In almost every case a TPO is requested and then granted.  More information is on the page devoted to the TPO, a link on the domestic violence page.

What happens after the hearing?

The defendant is held until such time as the bond is posted.  He or she is then booked out of jail and released.

In almost all cases the alleged victim is protected by a TPO and the defendant can have no contact.  Someone else must pick up the defendant after his or her release from jail.

It is not unusual for the judge to prohibit the defendant to have contact with the alleged victim.  If the defendant has no where other than the alleged victim's home, then the judge may be put in a position of denying a release from jail.  It is important the defendant have a place to go, other than the alleged victim's home.


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