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When Should I Call the Police During a Domestic Dispute?

Fights between significant others are common. However, some domestic disputes can turn violent and abusive. In these situations, calling the police to home is necessary to protect a person’s life and the lives of his or her children. Unfortunately, some people can misuse police services for domestic violence.

If you have been accused of domestic abuse and are looking for a strong defense, speak to one of our Scottsdale domestic abuse attorneys now.

The Importance of Honoring Domestic Violence Laws

Domestic violence is a serious problem in Arizona, affecting thousands of people every day. According to the Arizona Governor’s Office of Youth, Faith, and Family:

  • One in four women will experience domestic violence in her life.
  • Annually, approximately 1.3 million women experience domestic violence in the United States.
  • Every 44 minutes, one or more children in Arizona witness an act of domestic violence.
  • Victims of domestic violence in rural Arizona have limited access to police services and safe homes.
  • Most survivors of domestic violence do not report their abuse to law enforcement.

However, not every domestic violence report that police officers receive is true and valid. Many people abuse police services to report domestic violence against a partner, usually during an argument.

People who need protection from an abusive partner should be the only ones who use domestic violence services. Unfortunately, this is not always the case. Once a person calls the police to make a false domestic violence accusation, his or her partner can suffer serious consequences.

How Do You Know When to Call the Police?

Certain domestic situations do require police intervention. However, not every argument requires the involvement of law enforcement. Knowing the difference between an unsafe situation and an unpleasant argument can keep a couple out of serious trouble.

If a person experiences any of the following situations, he or she should call the police to assist with a domestic violence charge.

  • The victim suffers an injury or physical abuse caused by his or her violent partner.
  • The abusive partner makes a threat to harm the victim or his or her children.
  • The abusive partner threatens to harm himself or herself.
  • The victim experiences ongoing physical or psychological violence.

As a general rule, a person should only call emergency services if he or she is concerned for the health and safety of himself or herself, his or her children, or his or her partner. Calling the police in any situation that is not an emergency will result in a loss of resources and serious consequences for the alleged abusive partner.

When Should You Not Call the Police?

Some people do call the police on their partners for domestic violence for reasons other than an emergency. Contrary to some beliefs, police officers cannot cool down a nonviolent domestic argument. A person cannot choose to drop charges after he or she calls the police for a domestic violence incident. The police will take over the situation and make an arrest based on their judgment.

A person should refrain from calling the police under the following circumstances:

  • He or she wants to end a nonviolent argument and believes that calling the police will diffuse the situation.
  • His or her partner has reacted violently, but not towards the person. For example, a person throwing a lamp at the wall may be shocking, but he or she likely performed the action out of frustration rather than violence.
  • He or she wants to teach the partner a lesson or scare the partner by involving the police.

Some of these situations can fit into a domestic violence situation. An abusive partner can throw objects, intending to hit the other person. If a person experiences physical violence, he or she should call law enforcement. However, if violence – or the threat of violence – is not present, do not call the police.

Potential Consequences for Domestic Dispute Calls

Domestic violence reports can result in serious consequences, even if a person did not abuse his or her partner. Potential penalties for domestic violence in Arizona include:

  • Restrictions on owning firearms
  • Up to six months in jail
  • A fine up to $2,500
  • Mandatory counseling
  • Police-imposed restraining orders

A person should not call the police on his or her partner if the partner did not act violently. Police cannot resolve domestic disputes. To keep a family out of unnecessary trouble, do not involve the police unless a person is in danger of injury or death.