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Case Preparation and Prosecution. Case Begins With Arrest. Practice and preparation assists officers Think court from beginning Document the crime scene Document the case Collect data as if going to trial. Effective Intervention.

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case begins with arrest
Case Begins With Arrest
  • Practice and preparation assists officers
  • Think court from beginning
  • Document the crime scene
  • Document the case
  • Collect data as if going to trial
effective intervention
Effective Intervention

Will work even if victims do not cooperate or are reluctant to participate; however, it requires sound police work and investigation coupled with a commitment to prosecution and conviction.

historically the criminal justice system response
Historically, the Criminal Justice System Response
  • Has relied upon the victim to “make the case”
  • Failed to protect many victims
  • Lacked specialized investigators/prosecutors
  • Has high dismissal rates and low conviction rates
  • Little accountability for offenders
  • Increases danger for victims
  • And then we ask, why won’t she testify, prosecute, cooperate, etc?
victims will use the system
Victims will use the system
  • But only if the system doesn’t put them in more danger!
  • Evidenced in Duluth in the 1980s.
  • The Duluth program challenged the way both the criminal justice system and social services systems responded to woman battering
reforms made in duluth
Reforms made in Duluth
  • A mandatory arrest policy
  • Mandatory reports for all domestic violence calls
  • Extensive outreach by victim advocates
  • Pro-active prosecution of cases
  • Judicial sentences even for first time offenders, coupled with mandatory treatment
  • Extensive use of protective orders
  • Community coordinated response
  • Arrests rose from 22 in 1980 to 175 in 1983
  • Convictions rose from 20% in 1980 to 87% in 1983
  • 70% reported no physical abuse when a one year follow-up evaluation was conducted
  • 80% reported that the combined systemic response had been helpful
  • Duluth did not experience a single “domestic homicide” in a decade (1982 to 1992)
  • Other cities have had similar success with these reforms
  • If the system, as a whole, works to hold batterers accountable for their behavior, battered women will use the system and it can help reduce harm to women.
  • The model has been implemented in many jurisdictions with good results
victim safety has to be priority
Victim Safety has to be Priority
  • Remove the responsibility from victims for law enforcement
  • Put responsibility for enforcement on the system
  • Focus on actions of offender
  • Provide victim support
  • Enforce protective orders
officers need to change their focus they need to ask themselves
Officers need to change their focus. They need to ask themselves:

What evidence can I use if the victim does not testify in this case?

How could I prove this case without the victim’s participation?

the initial investigation

The Initial Investigation

The first response is crucial.

Conduct an evidence based investigation.

over time
Over time:
  • Victims and witnesses may recant or disappear
  • Injuries will fade
  • Damaged property will be repaired or destroyed
  • Victims and children may be more apt to reveal information when they are in the immediate situation after an assault
excited utterances
Excited Utterances
  • If the responding officer asks a victim with a cut, “What happened?” and she replies, “My boyfriend hit me in the face,” her statement is an excited utterance. If the officer records this statement in the report, then at trial – even if the victim doesn’t testify – the officer will be able to tell the court what was said at the scene without it being ruled as hearsay.
statements about physical conditions
Statements About Physical Conditions
  • If the victim says to the officer, “My head is killing me. My husband punched me over and over in the head” and the officer includes this statement in the report, it would be admissible at trial because it describes the victim’s physical condition at the time of the assault.
statements about mental conditions
Statements about Mental Conditions
  • If the victim says to the officer, “I’m so terrified of him that I can’t breathe” and the responding officer includes this statement in the report, it would be admissible at trial because it describes the victim’s mental condition at the time of the assault.

911 tapes and printouts

Medical records

Paramedic log sheets

Prior police reports

Restraining orders

Booking records

Letters from suspect

Videotapes of interviews with victim


corroborating information in the possession of the victim
Corroborating Information in the Possession of the Victim
  • Officers should ask victims: “please give me the notes, cards, and letters that he has given you after he has hurt you before?”
  • Victims are often willing to provide this information in the “heat of the moment” and it can be used to help build the case
  • Batterers may have left the scene and left victims a note “apologizing” for the assault
  • Inform victims that if the batterer provides these things after the officers have gone, to contact the officer so that it can be added to the case file.
photographs worth a 1000 words
Photographs! Worth a 1000 words
  • Victim (Immediately and follow up a few days later to get pictures after bruises have had time to develop)
  • Offender
  • Children
  • Crime Scene
  • Damaged Property
document and gather evidence when possible including
Document and Gather Evidence when Possible Including:
  • Ripped, torn, and bloodstained clothing
  • Weapons
  • Broken items
  • Damage to walls and doors
  • Signs of forced entry
  • Damage to telephone
  • Bloodstains
officers actions at the scene

Officers’ Actions at the Scene

Strategies: CALM and Checklist Approaches

c a l m
  • Control
  • Apart/Avoid
  • Look
  • Moderate
c ontrol yourself
Control Yourself
  • Do not join in the dispute
  • Do not react impulsively or emotionally
  • Watch your tone of voice and body language
c ontrol the disputants
Control the Disputants
  • Start with the least aggressive technique.
  • Be aware of territorial instincts.
  • Be aware of cultural differences.
  • Consider phrasing commands as requests.
  • Remember that manner is important.
a part

Separate the disputants

  • Separate visually as well as physically
  • Keep your partner in sight
  • Keep all disputants and witnesses in sight until the situation is under the control of the officers.
a part1

Lone officers:

  • Concentrate on most aggressive disputant.
  • Instruct others to remain quiet.
  • Keep others at a distance, but within sight.
a void

Kitchens, bedrooms and bathrooms

  • There may be weapons in the bedroom.
  • There will be weapons in the kitchen.
l ook for weapons
Look for Weapons
  • Take control of obvious weapons.
  • Unload and pocket ammunition.
  • Never hand weapons back to disputants.
  • Check furniture before disputant sits.
  • Seize weapons if legally allowed to do so.
m oderate the mood
Moderate the Mood

Seating disputants

  • makes assault more difficult
  • provides warning of attack

Voicing instructions

  • repeated, calm, simple, direct
  • implies that you are not upset
m oderate the mood cont
Moderate the Mood (cont.)
  • Do not rush
  • Do not discount the victim as a possible problem
  • Never underestimate the possibility for aggressiveness or danger by individuals at the scene.
  • Attempt to explain the situation to the victim and suspect.
  • Brief them on your legal authority.
  • Indicate that you are only acting as an agent of the law.
  • Communicate to both parties that domestic violence is a crime.
upon arrival at the scene
Upon Arrival at the Scene
  • Assess victim and officer safety
  • Check physical condition of all parties; summon medical assistance if needed
  • Establish who was and is at the scene
  • Separate parties, including any children
  • Determine what, if any, criminal offense has occurred
  • Determine if any weapon was involved
  • Explain the investigation processes and procedures
preliminary investigation
Preliminary Investigation
  • Interview victim and suspect separately
  • If children at scene, interview them separately
  • Interview any other witnesses
  • Distinguish primary aggressor from victim if both parties are injured
  • Note any excited utterances by any parties present
  • Note emotional and physical condition of parties involved
  • Note demeanor of suspect and record any spontaneous statements
  • Note signs of injuries
  • Note any evidence of substance/chemical abuse
  • Note the condition of crime scene
  • Seize any weapons when legally permitted to do so
  • Request appropriate checks on the suspect
  • Photograph crime scene
interviewing victims
Interviewing Victims
  • Let the victim know you are concerned
  • Listen before asking clarifying questions
  • Be non-judgmental; acknowledge the victim’s feelings
  • Re-assure the victim that they are not to blame, the abuse is unacceptable, and that there is help available
  • Ask if there is history of abuse and to describe it
  • Determine if there is a protective order or other court orders
  • Ask about threats
  • Ask about corroborating evidence
  • Photograph any injuries and diagram on report
examples of good questions
Who have you told and who knows about it?

How can we reach you in 6 months?

Who will always know where you are?

Has he written you any notes or letters?

Has he written notes or letters to your friends or family members?

If the suspect is not at scene, ask for a photo of him.

Ask what he was wearing at the time of the incident?

Examples of good questions:
evaluate the nature of injuries
Evaluate the Nature of Injuries
  • A punch to the face will cause an injury to the entire area being struck
  • Walking into the wall –injury will be at the bony places of the face (e.g. nose)
  • When we fall, the bony places on our body will get hit (scraped knee, elbow)
  • Accidental injuries are likely to be on the front or back of the head, but not on the top of the head
  • Look for defensive injuries (to the back of the arms for example)
  • Look for evidence of strangulation
  • Injuries from strangulation often “undetectable”.
  • Strangulation is not choking.
  • Brain death occurs in 4 to 5 minutes.
  • Officers should suggest medical treatment for victims.
  • Treat as aggravated assault
symptoms and signs of strangulation
Symptoms and Signs of Strangulation

Outward trauma may not be visible.

  • Neck pain, sore throat
  • Scratch marks, tiny red spots, red linear marks, bruising
  • Hoarseness, loss of voice
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Light headed or head rush
  • Fainting or unconsciousness
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Loss of bodily function
  • Red eyes
  • Rope or cord burns
  • Neck swelling
  • Miscarriage
interviewing the suspect
Interviewing the Suspect
  • Ask the suspect to be seated and try to calm them down
  • Do not make accusatory statements
  • Acknowledge the suspect’s feelings
  • Document spontaneous admissions
  • Do not collude with the suspect
  • Do not reveal that the suspect called the police
examples of good questions1
Examples of good questions:
  • Please tell me what happened here?
  • Has this happened before?
  • Who else was around when things broke loose?
  • Are they under any supervision or court orders?
document suspect s behavior
Document Suspect’s Behavior
  • Note demeanor and physical appearance
  • Note and photograph injuries or lack of injuries
  • Unsolicited statements
  • Admission by silence
  • Looks of intimidation or threats to victim
  • Use of drugs or alcohol
  • DV history (same parties, same residence)
interviews with children
Interviews with Children
  • Interview away from victim and suspect
  • Crouch or sit at child’s level
  • Put the child at ease. Reassure them.
  • Explain why you’re there,
  • Be sure not to indicate a response or ask leading questions
  • Be aware that child may be distrustful of adults or been warned not to talk to outsiders
  • Call DCS if child has been abused
  • Establish probable cause
  • If present -- make an arrest
  • If a law enforcement officer decides not to make an arrest or decides to arrest two or more parties – file report with supervisor
assist victim
Assist Victim
  • Discuss support and local services.
  • Advise victim of legal rights available and give them a copy of the victim’s rights statement.
  • Offer to transport the victim to a place of safety or arrange for transportation.
  • Advise the victim of his/her right to go and sign a criminal complaint with local authorities if no arrest was made and offer to transport the victim to that location.
  • If suspect was arrested, notify the victim that the person arrested may be eligible to post bond for the offense and be released until the date of trial for the offense.
  • Consider that victims and witnesses due to their age, sexuality, disability, immigration status, minority and/or ethnicity may have special needs or may have increased vulnerability.
basic checklist
Basic Checklist:
  • Who
  • What
  • When
  • Where
  • How
ways to improve report writing
Ways To Improve Report Writing
  • Be brief/concise but include important elements as previously discussed
  • Eliminate vagueness
  • Make it understandable
  • Re-read as you write
  • Keep objective in focus
  • Use chronological order
things needed to prepare for trial
Things Needed to Prepare for Trial
  • Victim/Witness Checklist
  • Officer’s Reports
  • Evidence Checklist
  • Other Information
  • Establish Pre-Trial Communication with Prosecutors and Witnesses
effectiveness on day of trial tips
Effectiveness on Day of Trial: Tips
  • Show up early
  • Be prepared
  • Look professional
  • Tell the truth
  • Listen to questions.
  • Use eye contact.
  • Answer only the questions asked.
  • Be prepared to explain police procedures.
  • Maintain your control.