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Domestic Violence & Spousal Abuse - Might I have difficulties reporting domestic violence to police?

Posted by attorney Curtis Romanowski

Q. Am I likely to have any difficulties reporting the domestic violence to the police?

A. It has been observed on more than just a few occasions that "absent signs of a physical assault" some police departments do not contact their Municipal Court Judge for review and decision but, instead, send the complaining victim away with the advice that they should make their complaint in Family Court during the week, between 8:30AM and 4:30PM.

This is an abusive practice, entirely inconsistent with the letter and spirit of the Domestic Violence Act. The Act is designed to curtail violence before it becomes physical violence. It is for this reason that complaining victims "whenever possible" go to the police department with another adult companion.

Be prepared to vigorously protest any decision against issuing a TRO that was not made by the on-call Judge. The following is excerpted from New Jersey's Domestic Violence Procedures Manual, and should be quoted to the reporting officer if there are any problems related to a refusal to present your case to a Judge:

Guidelines on Police Response Procedures in Domestic Violence Cases VI. Emergent Temporary Restraining Orders. A. Where... the victim requests an immediate court order, the officer shall contact the designated Judge by telephone, radio, or other means of electronic communication. The officer should: 1. Assist the victim in preparing a statement to be made to the Judge. 2. Explain that the Judge will place the person under oath and ask questions about the incident. 3. If the Judge issues a temporary restraining order, the police officer will be instructed to enter the Judge's authorization on a prescribed form.

Demand your right to be heard! It is yours to exercise.

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