Jul 20, 2023

Does Missouri have a mandatory arrest law for domestic violence?

Criminal Defense

The state of Missouri defines domestic assault as an assault against a current or former spouse or partner, a family member, a co-parent, or a current or former cohabitant.

A common belief is that when the police respond to a domestic violence situation, the law requires them to make an arrest. In Missouri, this is only partially true.

What is mandatory arrest?

In many states, when the police respond to a domestic violence call, they must arrest the alleged offender, even if the victim does not make a formal complaint. Proponents of these laws believe mandatory arrest protects victims and deters abusers.

Does Missouri have a mandatory arrest law?

Missouri does not have a mandatory arrest law, but the state does have laws pertaining to domestic violence arrests. While arrest is mandatory in some situations, law enforcement officers can generally exercise discretion.

If the officer has probable cause to believe that an assault occurred, the officer may arrest the offender even if the victim refuses to make a statement. If two parties accuse one another of assault, the officer does not always have to arrest them both. Rather, the officer should identify the primary aggressor.

When an officer chooses not to arrest anyone in a domestic violence situation, he or she must make a written report detailing the circumstances and the decision not to make an arrest.

When must the police make an arrest?

If law enforcement responds to a second domestic violence call within twelve hours of the first call, then an arrest is mandatory. The initial report may then serve as evidence against the alleged assailant.

While Missouri does not have a mandatory arrest law, state laws do recognize the seriousness of domestic violence and lay out guidelines for law enforcement responding to these situations.