Editor's note: The Times is doing a series of articles highlighting commonly broken laws, explaining common misconceptions about the laws and detailing what types of actions will get a person arrested. Today, we examine the domestic battery laws. To suggest a law for The Times to highlight, contact the writer.
Police officers who enforce Indiana's domestic battery laws say some people don't realize they can be arrested on battery charges even if the victim doesn't have a black eye or bloody nose, and even if the victim doesn't want to press charges.
Porter County police Lt. Chris Eckert said police can arrest a person on battery charges if they do something as simple as pushing another person or grabbing their wrists.
"The statute reads, if we have probable cause to believe a battery has occurred, we will make an arrest," Eckert said. "We're going to protect the victim from further injury whether they want to be protected or not."
Battery is a misdemeanor offense, but becomes a felony if certain criteria are met, like if the victim is strangled or if the battery is committed in the presence of a child less than 16 years of age. Inflicting serious injury or using a weapon will also upgrade the charges.
Eckert said there are situations -- such as conflicting stories and no visible injuries -- where police will not make an arrest, but will forward the case to prosecutors for consideration of charges.
Police officers in Porter County undergo domestic violence training annually, keeping abreast of new issues, sections of the law and resources for victims.
Eckert said people arrested on battery charges often have an additional charge of interference with reporting a crime added. It is a misdemeanor offense to break a telephone, take a telephone away from a victim or otherwise interfere with the reporting of a crime.