How do the police decide who to charge?

The police will investigate to figure out if someone committed a crime. The police might:

  • talk to you and your partner separately,
  • talk to other witnesses,
  • ask if your partner has been abusive in the past,
  • check to see if you or your partner have been involved with the police before,
  • check to see if there are any court orders.

The dominant aggressor

If both you and your partner were violent or aggressive, the police should only charge the dominant aggressor. This is the person who caused most of the violence.

For example, you might be in a situation where your partner was violent, and then you hit your partner to defend yourself. Even though you were violent to defend yourself, your partner caused the violence. Your partner was the dominant aggressor. The police should charge your partner and not you.

Talking to the police

You do not have to talk to the police if you do not want to. Even if you called 911 you can decide not to talk to them. But talking to the police can help them figure out if someone committed a crime.

If you decide to talk to the police, you should not lie. Lying to the police is a crime. And, if you lie, the police might not know whether to believe you if you call them for help another time.

The police will write down what you tell them and ask you to sign the statement to confirm it is true. This is called making a “statement” or a “police statement”. You do not have to sign the statement, but if you want to, it is a good idea to read it before you sign it. You can ask the police to make changes if you think the statement is not correct.

Sometimes, the police may ask you to come to the police station to record your statement on video.

Before making a statement, you can ask for an interpreter if you need one. The police have professional interpreters so that family members or friends do not have to do this for you.

The police might also ask you to sign a consent form, so that they can get medical evidence of your injuries from the doctor or hospital that treated you.

Many officers wear “body cams”. These are cameras attached to their police uniform that record video and sound, including things you say to the police. You can ask the police if they are recording you. If you do not want their body cam to record you, you can ask them to turn it off.

If you refuse to give the police a statement, your recorded 911 call or anything the police record on their cameras can still be used as evidence in court.


The police must tell a Children’s Aid Society (CAS) if they are concerned for your child’s safety. This can include a child who witnessed family violence, even if the child was not physically hurt. See Can my family be reported to a Children’s Aid Society?

If your children are removed from your home by the CAS, contact a child protection lawyer immediately. See General legal services.

Police reports

When the police finish their investigation, they always file an occurrence report. They do this even if they do not charge anyone with a crime. You can ask for a copy of the report.

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