Interviewer: Could a police officer question a child without the consent of the parent in a domestic violence case?
Paul Tafelski: Yeah. Typically they will interview kids who they think are old enough to give a statement if they think it’s necessary. For example you might have a situation where the accused admits that what the accuser says is true. Well in that situation the cops might not feel like they have to interview the kids because they might feel like they just got an admission from the defendant and they have the statement of the complaining witness so they don’t really need the children. They might just note in their report that the children didn’t see it.
Judges View the Presence of Children as an Aggravating Factor in Domestic Violence Cases
Other situations they may interview the children. Generally my experience has always been at least one parent there that could consent to the interview or be present but doesn’t happen too often where you’ll see the children being interviewed but on occasion it does happen. The judges don’t like to see an incident like that happen in front of children because they do view that as an aggravating factor when they are considering what to do to you if you do end up convicted. It’s a relevant factor because they don’t like it, that’s for sure.
Child Protective Services Will Not Get Involved Unless they Suspect the Child is a Victim of Abuse
Interviewer: So if there were children involved, will they have to deal with Protective services?
Paul Tafelski: Usually not unless a child is the victim. If it was a fight between a 13 year old girl and her mother or a boy and his mother or father then sometimes protective services would be called if there are younger kids that are involved. Unless the police arrive and really think the whole scene is something neglectful or abusive towards the children they usually won’t be involved.
A Domestic Violence Charge Does Not Necessarily Have to be Between Spouses, It can be Between Siblings or Parents and Children as Well
Interviewer: Now you bring that up, like an example of a daughter and a mother or a son and a mother, would that also be considered domestic violence?
Paul Tafelski: Yeah definitely, I’ve had cases with sons and daughters vs. mothers and fathers and sons vs. daughters. I think I’ve even had like grandparents vs. grandchildren, so it can be anybody, the law is about anybody with whom you live or in a domestic relationship with or have been in a domestic relationship with, so it’s pretty broad.
Domestic Violence Cases May Escalate Into Divorce Cases and Custody Disputes
Interviewer: One of the fears that a parent may have in a situation like this is that if they were involved and even if there were no children at the scene, could they be jeopardizing custody of their child if it came down to a divorce and they end up separating, could they be facing that whole idea where they might not be able to have custody of their child?
Paul Tafelski: Yes, I’ve had a lot of cases that started as domestic violence cases that turned into divorce cases and we are able to represent people in our office in both those events, a domestic violence case and a divorce case and it is often an issue that comes up in custody disputes and is used against the person who’s been accused. So it’s a one more reason for a cohesive strategy and how are you going to deal with this case and how are you going to address it and how is it going to affect your divorce case or your custody case. So domestic violence is definitely an issue in custody cases so it has to be thought about and dealt with.