Domestic disputes can escalate quickly, leading observers to make assumptions about an incident. The truth may not be apparent, and officers might arrive and arrest the wrong individual.
What are common reasons the police arrest the wrong person, and what legal defenses are valid in court?
Why police arrest the wrong person
Unfortunately, domestic violence is common in Washington, with nearly a third of men and over 40% of women experiencing some form of violence or threat from an intimate partner. In these cases, law enforcement officers can make a mistake. For example, a person’s background or experience can create bias against a specific gender or ethnicity.
Officers might make assumptions about the case before arriving because of which party phoned 911. If a neighbor or bystander calls the police, that person’s account of the events might color an officer’s perception.
Additionally, the police might presume who initiated the incident because one party sustained worse injuries. An officer could also base the decision on the parties’ responses or who appears to be most upset.
What defenses a court accepts as valid
Once a person accuses another of domestic violence, only the state can drop charges. The accusor can withdraw an accusation or refuse to cooperate but cannot control how the prosecution proceeds.
A court may clear a defendant for various reasons, such as a lack of evidence, especially regarding the intent to harm. Also, the defendant might establish that the event was an accident, a case of self-defense or for the protection of others.
A domestic violence conviction can alter an individual’s employment, schooling and housing prospects. Incarceration changes relationships, and a person can deal with psychological trauma. These consequences often motivate accused persons to take charges seriously and prepare a solid defense.