Should police run criminal checks on domestic abuse victims?

On behalf of Stange Law Firm, PC posted in Domestic Violence on Wednesday, March 20, 2013.

As a society, we tend to focus on domestic violence from the standpoint of a wife or girlfriend being abused. And while there are certainly plenty of cases where in abusive relationships this is the case, it is also important to keep in mind that abuse can go both ways and that there are plenty of husbands and boyfriends who are in abusive relationships.

In all of these abuse situations, the person abused should know there are strict laws in Illinois meant to protect them and that family violence of any kind is never OK. In cases where children are involved, whether they are abused or have been witness to the abuse, this is something that should be brought up in court in order for a judge to determine what the safest, best choice is for child custody and visitation.

When it comes to domestic situations, there is also typically already a lot of shame involved for the victim. In some cases, this may even stop a scared spouse or partner from reporting the abuse. However, in New York it turns out the fear of a criminal check may also be influencing victims not to call the police.

According to a recent article, the New York Police Department is running criminal checks on not only those accused of abusing a spouse, but also on the victim. The hope behind this is for the accuser to remain cooperative with police and to not back out of appearing in court to testify about the abuse.

However, plenty have already come out against the criminal check practice claiming it will deter victims from reporting abuse. For example, those with warrants or unpaid tickets may be afraid they too will get in trouble during the criminal check.

While this new protocol is in New York, if it were in Illinois, what would you think of it? Should police be running a criminal check on those accused and the alleged victims? Will this deter abused spouses from calling police?

Source: New York Post, “NYPD using criminal background checks to push victims in domestic-violence cases,” Jamie Schram and Dan Mangan, March 16, 2013

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