The following scenario seems to be getting more and more common: Teenage Child starts to become rebellious, unruly, and will not listen to Parent. Parent has had enough of the insolence and disrespect and attempts to discipline Child. Things get heated, tempers flare, and a scuffle takes place. Child strikes Parent or other family member. No one gets hurt. This is not the first time such an incident has taken place. In the past, when such incidents have occurred, everyone separates themselves for a period of time, things cool down, and everyone goes back to normal. However, this time, Parent has had enough. Parent calls the police, hoping that a uniformed police officer can come out to the home and talk some sense into Child.
Several moments later, while everyone is still upset about the incident, Police Officer arrives. Police Officer speaks with everyone at the home. Everyone, including Child, admits that Child struck Parent. Much to Parent’s surprise, Police Officer arrests Child and takes him or her to the Warren County Juvenile Detention Center (JDC). Parent pleads with Police Officer not to arrest Child, but Police Officer explains that it is department policy. Child is charged with Domestic Violence and remains in JDC until such time that a detention hearing is held. In spite of numerous telephone calls to the prosecutor’s office, the assigned prosecutor refuses to drop the charges.
The lesson from this common scenario is the following: if you get the police involved in a situation involving violence among family members, expect that someone is going to be arrested. If it is an especially violent or dangerous situation, then, by all means, call the police and protect yourself and your family. However, if this is just a relatively minor family skirmish, think twice about the temptation to get the police involved for the purpose of scaring your defiant child into obedience. Once the police get involved, things can quickly spiral out of control. There is considerable pressure on police and prosecutors to prosecute domestic violence cases to the fullest extent of the law from various advocacy groups. Police department policies are now designed to remove the responding police officer’s discretion. If domestic violence is deemed to have occurred, regardless of how minor the incident, department policy often requires that police officer to make an arrest.
Under Ohio law, it is the police and prosecutor who determine whether or not to pursue a criminal charge – not the alleged victim. Parents can be subpoenaed and forced to testify against their child. Mere threats can be charged and prosecuted as domestic violence as well. Subsequent domestic violence charges may carry much higher penalties and in many cases can be charged as felonies. If your child is suddenly behaving in a rebellious and unruly manner and things look like they may soon get out of control, start exploring various options for addressing the situation before the above situation arises.