Governor Andrew Cuomo recently signed into law revisions to the way police officers report incidences of domestic violence, called the Domestic Incident Report. While police paperwork is not usually any reason to stop and pay attention, in this case the revisions could have a significant impact on whether individuals are charged with domestic violence.
The new forms include room for more information about the incident that led to police involvement. Particularly, police have more room to:
- Take down testimony
- Note factors that may lead to the risk of future violence
- Better detail evidence for crimes that do not leave lasting evidence
- Ask specific questions intended to determine if a victim needs help from an outside source
Prosecutors, victim advocates and others called for increased information to help prosecute people accused of engaging in domestic abuse. Some have argued that the previous forms did not do enough to aid investigators and prosecutors about whether to pursue the issue. Police must fill out the paperwork regardless of whether they make an arrest. The state does not need the cooperation of a victim to pursue criminal charges for domestic violence.
Why does this matter?
In any criminal investigation, the information included in the police report can play a vital role in whether the state decides to prosecute a criminal case. If charges are filed, police will testify according to what is in the police report. It remains to be seen whether the revised forms will lead to more instances of criminal prosecution for domestic violence.