You can take the Danger Assessment Quiz to help you decide if you should report your abuser.
When local law enforcement intervenes in a domestic abuse case, they will usually take the abuser into custody. Then, police officers shall make preliminary investigation on the allegations of domestic abuse by:
- gathering evidence
- talking to neighbors and witnesses
- questioning the abuser, and
- taking the victim’s statement.
If there is substantial evidence of domestic abuse, the police shall indict the abuser and prosecute him/her.
The case then goes through a criminal trial procedure, summarized viz-a-viz pre-trial negotiations, jury or bench trial, and final verdict. If convicted, the abuser shall spend time in jail as required by law for the offense(s) committed. However, if the case is civil wrong – and not a state wrong, the abuser may not spend time in jail. Instead, the victim must file civil charges against the abuser.
Can I choose not to press charges?
Depending on the state, the decision to press criminal charges is not up to you. Suppose the police have compelling evidence that your abuser violated state criminal laws in their actions against you. In that case, law enforcement shall indict the abuser and transfer the case to a prosecutor.
On the other hand, your right to press charges or not only applies when law enforcement does not have substantial evidence to indict the individual with criminal charges. However, you may press civil charges for the wrongs committed against you and court-ordered monetary compensation from your abuser.