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Domestic Violence: Calling the Police and Mandatory Arrest

You May Want to Call the Police

  • They can protect you from immediate danger and help you and your children.
  • They can arrest the abuser without a warrant when the police officer has good reason to believe that an assault has taken place, is taking place or if the abuser has violated a Protection Order.
  • They will advise you of Domestic Violence Services, including shelter programs.
  • They can write out a police report, which is a detailed account of what happened to you. A police report can be used to help prove abuse occurred which may be helpful in a variety of court hearings including a Protection Order hearing. You do not need to have a police report to file for a Protection Order.

When the Police Arrive

  • Try to stay calm. Even though you are in a crisis situation, it's very important to stay as calm as you can. The more information you can effectively communicate to the police, the better the officer may be able to respond.
  • Ask that a report be filed. Officers are required to file an official report for every domestic violence case they respond to even if no other police action was taken.
  • Describe the incident in detail. No one knows what took place better than you. Do not be intimidated or frightened when the officers ask you for a statement--this is just a way of putting what happened in your own words. You will be asked to read what the officer has written to make sure it's correct. The police will not know what happened at the incident unless you tell them.
  • Show the police any injuries, bruises or damaged property. This is evidence! Visible proof provides more facts the police will take into consideration. If there is no physical proof (for instance, you were being threatened or experienced pain), explain clearly what happened.
  • Have the police photograph any injuries or damaged property. Also, keep in mind that many injuries, such as bruising, do not show for several days and may also worsen over time. Be sure and have the contact number of the police department and request that follow-up photographs be taken. Your medical provider may also be able to take photographs.
  • Tell the officers if there were any witnesses. They help validate the fact that something has taken place.
  • Tell the officers about other violent incidents. Past abuse is part of an abusive pattern. Previous assaults help explain the danger involved in your situation.
  • Show the officers any court documents you have, such as a Protection Order. In particular, keep a certified copy of a No Contact Order, a Restraining Order, or Protection Order with you at all times.
  • Ask the officers for their business card, case number of the report and a phone number. Call the officers with any concerns or questions while the incident is being investigated.

Mandatory Arrest

  • The law requires a police officer responding to an incident of domestic violence to make an arrest if the officer has probable cause to believe that a domestic violence assault or other serious domestic violence offense was committed within the previous four hours.
  • If the officer determines that family or household members have assaulted each other, the officer will arrest only the person they believe to be the primary aggressor. State law also requires mandatory arrest for violations of No Contact Orders and Civil Protection Orders.
  • A person arrested for a domestic violence offense will usually be held in jail until they appear before a judge, usually the following day. The Court may require a defendant charged with Domestic Violence to sign a No Contact Order as a condition for release from jail prior to trial.
  • Prior to arraigning domestic violence defendants, the Domestic Violence Advocate will attempt to contact victims to determine whether they wish a No Contact Order to be issued. Advocates can also notify a victim whether or not a defendant has been released from jail.

Email the Domestic Violence Victim Advocate   or telephone at (425) 430-6654.