Issues with mandatory arrest laws

On Behalf of | Jun 10, 2019 | Firm News

Wisconsin is one of 22 states that has mandatory arrest laws in effect. Under these laws, if someone calls to report an incident of domestic violence, authorities who respond to the scene cannot leave without making at least one arrest. The purpose of these laws is to serve as a deterrent for domestic violence. However, research has shown that mandatory arrests have some unforeseen consequences.

According to the University of Kentucky, one such consequence is dual arrests. When arriving to the scene of reported domestic violence, authorities are not always able to ascertain who is the perpetrator. Due to the requirement to make an arrest, law enforcement may resolve the dilemma by arresting both parties and leaving it up to the criminal justice system to determine who committed the abuse. Research indicates that, understandably, survivors of abuse are less likely to turn to the legal system for help following a dual arrest.

In some instants, mandatory arrest laws may dissuade survivors from reporting abuse in the first place. For example, women of color tend to perceive the justice system as discriminatory and racist and may feel reluctant to subject a domestic partner to the possibility of unfair treatment from authorities.

Furthermore, as FindLaw correctly points out, not all survivors of domestic violence are women. Some research suggests that the numbers of men and women abusing one another are nearly equal, although women are more likely to report than men. Mandatory arrest laws may deter a male survivor of abuse to report for fear that he will be the one to end up in jail rather than his female partner despite the fact that he is the one who made the report.