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Do you know a woman who is being abused? A legal rights handbook

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Can I also be charged?

There is always a possibility that you will be charged. When the police arrive, they are supposed to question you and your partner separately. The police will investigate to determine whether or not a crime has happened.

The dominant aggressor

The police are supposed to consider the history of your relationship and decide which partner is the dominant aggressor. They do this before deciding whether and who to charge with a crime.

Dominant aggressor: the partner who has caused most of the violence in the relationship.

Even if you have been physically aggressive towards your partner, the police should not charge you if your partner is the dominant aggressor and if you were trying to protect yourself or someone else, such as a child. However, abusers often lie about what happened when they talk to the police. If this happens, the police might charge you instead.

If your partner lies to the police, you will need to tell them about your partner's assault, including anything you did to protect yourself.

Investigations and statements

The police should investigate the whole story. This includes any prior abuse, police involvement, court orders, and information from witnesses. This will help them determine if anyone has committed a crime. This investigation is very important, especially if you do not have any physical marks or injuries or if your partner has lied to the police about what happened.

The police might want to make a video of your statement at the police station. It is your choice whether you want to make a statement to the police. Even if you called the police, you are not required to make a statement.

Many officers now have "body cams". These are body-worn video recorders that can record their conversation with you. If you are speaking to a police officer, you should ask if they are recording what you say. If you do not want to be recorded, you should tell them and ask that the body cam be turned off.

If you agree to make a written statement, you can ask to look at it and make any changes before you sign it.

You can also ask for an interpreter if you need one.

The police have professional interpreters who can accurately translate for you, so that family members or friends do not have to act as interpreters.

The police should always file an occurrence report, even if they do not charge anyone with a crime.

Occurrence report: the police summary of what happened. It has details such as what you and your partner told them, and what the police saw. The report should include an occurrence or incident number.

Anything you say to the police must be truthful. What you say will be treated seriously, whether it is at the place where the incident happened or at the police station. Recordings of 911 calls, video statements, and body cam recordings can be used as evidence in court.