Question: Last week my girlfriend and I got into a fight. I won't go into the details of what happened, but a neighbor called the police, and my girlfriend was arrested for domestic violence, even though I didn't want her to be. Don't I have to agree to press charges before she can be arrested?
Answer: No, especially if the charges involve domestic violence. Alaska statute 18.65.530 mandates that an arrest will be made if police have probable cause to believe that a crime involving domestic violence has occurred. (Arrests are not made just because the police have been called, which is a common misconception.) This is done so that the burden of pressing charges is moved from the victim to the state.
Victims of domestic violence often are coerced into not pressing charges, or feel they will receive even more abuse later if they agree to press charges when the police arrive. By transferring the decision to the police, it takes that stress away from the victim and ensures that the suspect will continue through the legal process.
Also, it is interesting to note that domestic violence laws do not apply just to assault. They also apply to murder, sexual assault, burglary, trespassing, arson, vandalism and a few others. Anyone arrested for a domestic violence crime cannot bail out of jail until they see a judge (usually the next day), and even when they are released, A.S. 12.30.027 prohibits them from returning to the home of the victim until the suspect is found not guilty or they are sentenced. This applies even if they shared the home with the victim at the time of the crime.
If you have questions that you would like to ask a trooper, please send them to: Alaska State Troopers, 4060 Heath St., Homer, AK 99603. Or you can e-mail them to Chad_Goeden @dps.state.ak.us. The Alaska State Troopers remind you to always wear your seat belt. It's the law.
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