I called the Sheriff’s department and spoke with the person in charge of domestic violence cases.
What I Hoped to Accomplish
I wanted to find out as much as I could about the process that occurs after calling the police to a domestic disturbance. Knowing what could happen if you call the police can give you the courage to call the police if you need them.
Keep in mind that this information is good for Cumberland County, North Carolina. Call your county’s sheriff’s department or city’s police department to discover what options are available to you.
Talking to the right person makes all the difference. The head guy explained:
- In my state of North Carolina, if the victim of a domestic assault shows no visible marks of physical violence, the sheriff cannot remove the alleged perpetrator from the home. There are a few exceptions, such as if the perpetrator makes threats against the victim’s life in the presence of the officers. Even if they cannot remove the perpetrator, officers can drive the victim to a shelter or to a friend’s home if s/he wants to go.
- Calling the police and/or leaving the home creates a Police Report (begins a paper trail). However, unless the police arrest the perpetrator and take him or her to jail, there are no charges brought against the perpetrator.
- A victim of domestic violence can go to the Magistrate’s office and press charges against the perpetrator at any time, with or without a Police Report. It is up to the Magistrate to decide if the complaint has enough evidence to hold up in court.
- Police Reports are valid for one year. After that, they cannot be the basis for pressing charges.
- If the magistrate creates the charge, it is the State of NC charging the perpetrator, not the victim. The victim becomes a witness in the case. If the victim does not go to court to give testimony, the case will most likely be dismissed.
- A victim of domestic violence or abuse can call the Sheriff’s Department at any time to request transportation to a safe house. Calling the Sheriff is the only way to find a safe house in my county.
I definitely recommend calling your Sheriff or Police Department! The information they give you will help you during safety planning, and knowing in advance what to expect if you do call them to your home is invaluable.