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What happens when the police come?

Domestic violence occurs in homes across the country, but there are many victims who are scared to come forward or make a police report. One possible factor in this is not knowing what will happen if the victim calls the police. It's normal to wonder if the police officer will believe you, side with the abuser or possibly arrest both of you. The Florida Family Code has information on what to expect from an officer who responds to a domestic violence incident.

The first thing an officer will do when responding to a domestic violence call is make sure that both parties are stable and reasonably calm. If there are any injuries that require immediate medical treatment, the officer will call for an ambulance. Otherwise, the officer will begin to take statements from both parties about what happened. It's important to always tell the police exactly what happened so that there is an accurate record in the police report if you decide to pursue further legal options.

It's normal to be worried about the possible repercussions if you fought back against the abuser, as many abusers will try to flip these situations and paint themselves as the victims. However, Florida statute provides for this by instructing the police officer to "try to determine who was the primary aggressor" and arrest that party. The statute also indicates that an officer should try not to arrest someone acting in self-defense or protecting another household member if possible.

Any time an officer is called to a potential domestic violence situation, he or she will provide the affected party with information on organizations and resources that can help victims get help. One of the most important steps in moving forward is talking with a family law attorney who can help victims of domestic violence understand their legal options.

Source: Florida Senate, "741.29 Domestic violence; investigation of incidents; notice to victims of legal rights and remedies; reporting.," accessed Dec. 08, 2015

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