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What Do Professionals Need to Know?

Criminal Justice, Legal, and Judicial Systems
Model Domestic Violence Policy for Counties


Domestic violence cases are brought-and victims and offenders are identified-in both our criminal and civil justice systems. However, a victim's first contact with law enforcement or the courts rarely happens after the first, or even the second, domestic incident. Historically, our legal system has become involved only after the pattern of abuse is well established, the level of physical injury has become serious, or the violence has spread beyond the intimate relationship or family.

The costs to the victim of being involved with the criminal justice and legal systems-in money, time, lost work, lost privacy, and retaliatory acts by the abuser-are daunting. Quite frequently, over time or simultaneously, a victim will be involved in a family offense proceeding, a civil contempt matter, custody, support, and visitation proceedings, a matrimonial action, and criminal proceedings in multiple courts. This fragmentation, coupled with the differing standards of proof, rules of procedure, and an extraordinary diversity of record-keeping practices, exhausts resources and often demoralizes and inadvertently endangers victims and their children.

Early intervention and a coordinated response to domestic violence provide the best path to protecting victims and their children, preventing the escalation of a pattern of abuse, reducing the rate of domestic homicide and felony crimes, and where possible, maintaining family stability. Not only should our legal and public safety institutions, such as police and probation departments, the courts and prosecutor's offices, take affirmative steps to accomplish these objectives, but also the individuals who work within those institutions should direct their work to the same ends. The courts are critical to this coordinated response. Although county government has no oversight or authority over the judicial system, recommendations are made here to include the courts as a partner in this coordination process and to develop protocols within and between the civil and criminal justice systems.

In addition to incorporating the following system-specific recommendations and the recommendations outlined in the Guiding Principles and the Employers sections into their responses to domestic violence, the criminal justice, legal, and judicial systems should also be aware of the potential need for individualized responses based on factors such as age, socio-economic status, sexual orientation, race, ethnicity, employment status, urban vs. rural residency, and marital status. Awareness of and sensitivity to these factors, however, should in no way relieve an offender of responsibility nor reduce the consequences for his violent behavior.


  1. VICTIM SAFETY AND SELF-DETERMINATION

    1. When the pattern of abuse includes acts that are violations of state and federal criminal laws, the responsibility for investigating, pursuing, prosecuting, and supervising the dispositions of these matters shall lie not with the victim, but with the appropriate law enforcement, prosecutorial, court, probation and community corrections professionals.

      This includes developing law enforcement policies that, regardless of the crime, require arrest where sufficient probable cause exists, without inquiring as to whether a victim wishes there to be an arrest (see CPL §140.10). While these policies limit the autonomy of victims in deciding whether an arrest should be made, the major concern of law enforcement agencies should be in strict, consistent enforcement of laws and immediate victim safety. The input of victims should be considered when making enforcement and prosecutorial decisions, but responding to the presenting needs of victims need not interfere with law enforcement's primary goal-to enforce the law. (See 1.f. below.)

      Investigation, interviewing, evidence collection, and case documentation strategies should be developed that, to the greatest degree possible, allow for "evidence-centered" prosecutions, including prosecuting violations of probation and parole. These strategies use the victim statements as corroboration to the other evidence, rather than relying primarily on the victim's testimony.

      Further, policies should be developed that create mechanisms for sharing information and joint case management between civil and criminal courts. For example, Family Courts, criminal courts, probation and community corrections agencies should develop monitoring and supervision mechanisms that do not rely solely upon victim reports of abuse, particularly in determining compliance with orders of protection and conditions of probation or parole.

      Finally, guidance is necessary, through law enforcement policy, training, and supervision, in determining the primary aggressor in a domestic incident to avoid the problem of victims being inappropriately arrested or coerced into not pursuing an arrest of their abuser. This policy must be in accordance with Chapter 4, signed into law in October of 1997 and effective on January 12, 1998, with guidelines to be issued by the New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services and the Office for the Prevention of Domestic Violence.

    2. Criminal justice agencies, courts, and legal professionals should develop protocols and supportive services that ensure that a victim's participation in the legal process will not expose her to unnecessary dangers or costs.

      The procedural needs of the criminal justice and civil court systems should never take priority over victim safety and should never unduly expose the victim to a preventable hazard or cost. Particularly in those instances where a criminal case will go forward regardless of a victim's expressed opposition, it is critical to engage a victim in risk assessment and safety planning, and to assure that New York's fair treatment standards for victims of crime are upheld.

      Risk prevention strategies may include:

      • consistent use by law enforcement of the Standardized Domestic Incident Report (DIR), as required by law, to document all incidents of domestic abuse, whether or not an offense was committed;
      • use of the DIR for local case tracking purposes and for informing the prosecutor of prior abusive acts;
      • officer-signed criminal informations or accusatory instruments;
      • follow-up interviews conducted at a victim-designated convenient site and time;
      • a mechanism for developing better law enforcement collaboration and team- building, across jurisdictions or between different governmental units (between local police and the Sheriff's Department, for example);
      • vertical prosecution (using the same prosecutor throughout the case);
      • to the greatest degree possible, in criminal cases, pursuing the strategy of "evidence-centered prosecution" that does not rely on a victim's testimony;
      • a protocol for handling cases in which the defendant is identified as a victim of domestic violence, whether as a result of a domestic violence-related offense or an unrelated charge;
      • appropriate use of the testimony of qualified domestic violence experts in court;
      • clear written protocols and guidelines for plea agreements in domestic violence cases;
      • when the victim's appearance is required, the issuance of subpoenas (even for willing witnesses), unless the use of the subpoena would jeopardize the victim's safety;
      • notification to the victim of defendant's release from custody;
      • setting short adjournment dates;
      • arranging or providing assistance with transportation, such as to a shelter or to court;
      • courthouse security programs and the provision of escorts-including separate waiting rooms and having court officers intervene when the defendant/respondent or others attempt to interact inappropriately with the victim;
      • court-based victim advocacy programs;
      • courthouse child care centers; and
      • supervised visitation orders for perpetrators of domestic violence when parties have children in common.

    3. Case files, incident reports, crime reports, witness statements, pre-sentence reports and other materials in domestic violence cases should be clearly designated as "domestic violence." To the extent legally possible, the statements, addresses, and telephone numbers of victims/petitioners should be held confidential.

      It serves no purpose for a victim to relocate or seek temporary refuge with friends or family members if the legal system is going to make her whereabouts known. A victim needs to be notified that the defendant's attorney may have access to her address through discovery, and that the district attorney needs proactively to request that the court protect this information.

      Legal practitioners, courts, and court personnel should be alerted to the need for orders of protection for third-party witnesses during the pendency of criminal proceedings. In particular, orders of protection issued in Family Court and criminal court should also protect the safety and interests of children in the household. When appropriate, the court should, in "stay away" orders of protection, specify locations in addition to the victim's primary residence, such as the homes of family members, as well as specifically including no telephone or mail contact, or contact through third parties. Orders of protection should always be clear, specific, and tailored to the individual circumstances of the case.

    4. Criminal justice and legal professionals should anticipate that, at times, legitimate survival and safety strategies employed by victims (such as unwillingness to give information, resistance to testifying, recanting all or part of previous statements) may come into conflict with the goals or needs of the legal system.

      Reducing the amount of necessary victim participation in legal and administrative proceedings is the surest way to reduce the potential for such conflict. Prosecutors and law enforcement professionals who begin from the assumption that the victim will not testify for the People are more likely to avoid the need for her testimony by preparing cases which rest on a foundation of otherwise legally sufficient evidence. This type of evidence can include, but is not limited to, 911 tapes, statements from emergency medical personnel and third party witnesses, photographs of victims, and physical evidence collected at the scene.

      Courts, criminal justice, probation and other community corrections agencies should develop strategies for continuing to provide safety planning, support services, and appropriate referrals for reluctant or recanting witnesses, or even to actively hostile victim-witnesses. Prosecutors should give such victim-witnesses the clear message that they will continue to be willing to assist them, regardless of their current level of cooperation.

    5. Domestic violence advocacy and service programs should be used as the primary referral resource for addressing the safety-related concerns of victims of domestic violence.

      Domestic violence advocates are available on a 24-hour basis to provide crisis intervention, shelter, and other services. Criminal justice professionals, legal practitioners, and probation and other community corrections staff should actively collaborate with domestic violence advocates to ensure effective responses in domestic violence cases especially in situations involving adult protective services, elder abuse, or child endangerment. To ensure equal access and protection, communities should develop specialized and culturally-competent services for traditionally underserved groups. Services and referrals should not include mediation, or couples or family counseling in cases in which domestic abuse is identified. (See Guiding Principles, 1.i.)

    6. Regardless of whether a legal proceeding of some kind will be initiated, criminal justice professionals and court staff should be prepared to assist victims in short-term risk assessment and safety planning.

      In addition to providing information on victims' rights and options and making knowledgeable referrals to domestic violence service providers, this assistance entails providing or arranging for escorts and transportation to shelters or other places of safety. Criminal justice and legal professionals should be prepared to provide basic safety planning information on the premise that some victims may not, at any given point in time, choose to connect with a domestic violence program. (See Guiding Principles, 1.d.)

    7. Interviews, whether at the scene of a domestic incident or elsewhere, should be conducted in a way that maximizes privacy and confidentiality.

      In a preliminary investigation this means, to the greatest degree practicable, keeping parties to an incident out of each other's sight and sound lines. Children should be kept out of spaces in which their parents are being interviewed and specific areas for children should be designated, whenever possible. Follow-up interviews should be done as near to the time of an incident as possible. In accordance with §642 of the Executive Law, which specifies criteria for the fair treatment of crime victims, courts should provide separate waiting rooms for victims and other prosecution witnesses. Similarly, police departments, district attorneys' offices, presentment agencies, and probation and other community corrections agencies should provide settings in which private interviews can be conducted.

    8. When investigation or interviewing indicates that weapons have been used, that their use has been threatened, or that they are possessed by a person who has previously been convicted of certain domestic violence misdemeanors, within the limits of their legal authority, law enforcement and legal professionals should take prompt action to effect the voluntary surrender of and/or seizure of such weapons.

      Criminal justice professionals, judges, court personnel, probation, and other community corrections professionals should be fully knowledgeable about relevant state and federal law, including Title 18, U.S.C. § 922 (g) (8) and (g) (9), which amended the Gun Control Act of 1968 (see Employers, 2.d.). Judges and prosecutors should instruct offenders that possession of a firearm, including rifles, shotguns, and certain starter pistols can be a violation of this federal law. In addition, courts should routinely include weapons surrender provisions in orders of protection.

    9. As far as practicable, victims should have the opportunity to make their wishes known regarding the terms of orders of protection, conditions of pretrial release, contemplated plea agreements or stipulations, and recommendations for conditions of probation.

      Law enforcement officers, legal practitioners, judges, probation, and court staff should consult with victims to identify specific safety concerns that should be addressed in the court's orders and any conditions of release, and, without placing the burden of decision-making on the victim, courts should craft orders that consider those expressed concerns.

      Victims of domestic violence should also be apprised that they are not required to arrange for service of orders of protection, and that such service will be promptly conducted or arranged by the municipal police department or sheriff's department in the jurisdiction. [See FCA §153-b (c)]

      When dealing with victims, providers should be aware that abusers will often attempt to coerce their victims not to pursue the charges or to "drop" the order of protection. Victims should be asked whether they have been contacted, directly or indirectly, by their abusers, with the intent of changing their minds on moving forward with the case. Further, information or statements that victims provide regarding their wishes on the disposition of cases should be held confidential.

    10. Criminal justice agencies, courts, probation, and other community corrections and legal professionals should create clearly designated mechanisms for providing victims with reasonable notice of the issuance, service, modification, or vacating of orders of protection; the issuance and execution of warrants; releases from custody; contemplated plea agreements and stipulations; and changes in conditions of probation or parole.

      These contacts can be made directly to the victim or to a person she designates, as appropriate.

    11. Criminal justice agencies, courts, probation and other community corrections and legal professionals should collaboratively develop-and find resources to implement-victim-witness protection programs utilizing advanced communications and security technologies.

      This may involve "panic button" alarm systems, cellular telephones, other home security systems, and electronic monitoring of offenders. The limitations of these devices must be explained to the victim, both verbally and in writing, and the use of such devices should never be used as an alternative to incarceration or probation supervision.

    12. Criminal justice agencies, courts, probation and other community corrections agencies should develop mechanisms for effective case tracking and the timely sharing of information.

      Effective sharing of information regarding an abuser's prior history of domestic violence, and his level of compliance with court orders, is crucial to making adequate charging decisions, pretrial release determinations (including bail or release on recognizance), pre-sentencing reports, and investigation/prosecution of probation and parole violations. This kind of communication is necessary in order for courts to make appropriate decisions about mandating educational programs, treatment, and services. Systems should also be developed to record and locally track protective orders issued under CPL 530.13, which are not currently required to be carried on the Statewide Registry of Orders of Protection.

    13. In Family Court and Matrimonial proceedings, legal professionals, courts, and court personnel should routinely screen for domestic violence and take appropriate steps to enhance victim safety, including separation of witnesses and provision of security escorts, if requested.

      The court does not compromise its impartiality in any given case by being fully alert to the prevalence, dynamics, and effects of domestic violence. Training on the dynamics of domestic violence and relevant law should be ongoing, and practitioners should be aware of the safety concerns that may arise when victims seek an order of protection, separation agreement, divorce, support, or terms of custody and visitation. Court assigned law guardians and attorneys should be required to receive this training as a condition of appointment. Courts should also consider requiring supervised visitation where there is evidence of domestic violence. The victim herself should never be appointed as the visitation supervisor, nor should the abuser's friends or family members serve in this role, except in rare circumstances such as in rural communities, where no alternative exists. Additionally, any costs related to supervised visitation should be borne by the abuser-the one whose behavior has created the need for the additional protection.

      Legal professionals, courts, probation, and court personnel should be aware that, where there is a history of domestic violence, victims and their children should never be ordered to participate in mediation, couples counseling, or family counseling (see Guiding Principles, 1.i.). Probation adjustment or diversion services should not be utilized where there is evidence of domestic violence.

    14. Family Court staff, law enforcement, and probation officers should routinely screen for domestic abuse in child abuse, child fatality, sexual abuse, juvenile delinquency, and PINS cases.

      Legal professionals, probation, courts, and court personnel should be aware that truants and runaways are often victims, perpetrators, or child witnesses to domestic violence. Children exposed to domestic violence often suffer behavioral difficulties directly related to the reasons for their appearance in Family Court. Screening mechanisms should be developed for identifying and intervening in these cases. In addition, sexual assault cases, child abuse, and child fatalities, are often linked with domestic violence victimization, and this assessment should be made routinely in such cases.


  2. ABUSER ACCOUNTABILITY

    1. Criminal justice, legal, probation and other community corrections professionals should advocate with the courts for prompt issuance, with clear and enforceable terms, of both temporary and dispositional orders of protection, orders of support, and orders for restitution.

      Where the victim requests and circumstances warrant, temporary orders of custody (including safe and reasonable conditions of visitation) and temporary orders of support should be issued simultaneously with a temporary order of protection.

      It is the responsibility of the court to inquire as to the existence of any other orders of protection involving the parties to help alleviate the problem of the issuance of conflicting orders (See CPL §530.12, 6-a). Before entering any order in a domestic violence-related case, the court should check both the NYSPIN Registry (for currently active orders of protection) and the Unified Court System's Domestic Violence System (which provides a historical record of protective orders). Only court staff can access this information through the Unified Court System at 800-266-9511 by phone or 800-266-7924 by fax. The Domestic Violence System can provide important information to the courts on existing orders and their conditions or whether the order has been vacated or has expired.

      There should be communication between the courts should there be a need to issue an order of protection that conflicts with an existing order of protection, visitation, and/or custody. This may be necessary to provide for victim protection such as a criminal court issuing a stay-away order that conflicts with an existing visitation order. When such circumstances arise, the court should explicitly state on the order that, due to new circumstances, it is issuing the order with knowledge of a prior conflicting order. This will help clarify the situation for law enforcement when faced with enforcing two differing orders of protection.

      Similarly, courts should give due consideration to structuring visitation orders that are consistent with the safety needs of both the mother and the children. Visitation orders should not conflict with more stringent terms of existing orders of protection. Orders establishing visitation should set forth a specific plan of visitation, with pick-ups and drop-offs at a neutral location, and, if necessary, a designated supervisor.

    2. When petitions for temporary orders of protection contain allegations of aggravating circumstances, the Family Court should exercise its authority to issue a warrant for the immediate arrest of the respondent.

    3. Criminal justice agencies and courts should develop mechanisms to ensure that there will be timely issuance and expedited execution of warrants in cases where a suspect has left the scene of a domestic incident, and there is probable cause to believe that a crime has been committed.

      Whenever possible, the law enforcement officer should initiate the necessary paperwork for the warrant, rather than require the victim to do so. In cases where the victim's signature is required, a mechanism should be developed to obtain this signature at the scene, rather than require her to come down to the station or the court. This avoids unnecessary delay in the warrant process, as well as the problem of cases "falling through the cracks" when victims are unable for whatever reason to come down to the station or the court. This helps ensure a consistent response and accountability for abuse in all cases, whether or not the offender is at the scene.

    4. Criminal justice agencies and courts should develop mechanisms to ensure timely arraignments of suspects.

      Domestic violence involves a pattern of coercive conduct, and abusers routinely attempt to punish victims for seeking help, or manipulate them into "non-compliance" with the legal system. Therefore, it is important for the court to intervene authoritatively at the earliest possible moment, and to establish the seriousness of its intention to protect victims and other witnesses.

      If it is at all possible, when there has been a domestic violence-related arrest, law enforcement should not set desk bail or issue appearance tickets. To prevent the need for pre-arraignment release, counties that lack temporary holding facilities should pursue developing procedures for temporary lockup with Sheriff's Departments or neighboring police agencies.

      At arraignment, judges have the responsibility of making bail determinations, coupled with the responsibility of making safety-related decisions involving the specific terms of orders of protection and establishment of conditions of pretrial release.

    5. Criminal justice agencies, probation and other community corrections professionals, and courts should ensure that alleged violations of orders of protection and violations of conditions of release, probation, or parole, are prosecuted with the same vigor as other crimes.

      The integrity of the system is protected when courts act to ensure compliance with orders. Regardless of the court of issuance, every violation of an order of protection or other court order issued in a domestic violence-related proceeding should result in a charge of criminal contempt in the first or second degree, and separate charges for any associated crime. Law enforcement, prosecutorial and judicial responses to valid out-of-state orders of protection must provide full faith and credit and consistent enforcement, as required by the Violence Against Women Act, 18 U.S.C. §2265.

    6. Courts, criminal justice agencies, and community corrections professionals should develop strategies for effectively sanctioning domestic violence offenders.

      All interventions should reinforce an offender's accountability for his behavior, and the court's intention that the offender stop the use of violence and coercion in his intimate relationships.

      Appropriate graduated sanctions should be used in response to domestic violence offenses. For first offenses and at the misdemeanor level, courts should make effective use of supervised probation, day reporting, restitution, community service, and weekend jail. For cases involving physical injury, violations of orders of protection, repeat offenses, and/or failure to complete or termination from batterers' intervention programs, there should be a stronger response, including jail and electronic monitoring.

      Where appropriate, conditions of probation and parole should include "stay-away" and "no-contact" provisions. Referrals to batterers programs should only be used in conjunction with a criminal or Family Court sanction and supervision, and there should be a clear mechanism in place for the program to regularly report to the court regarding the offender's participation and compliance with program rules.

      Courts, in accordance with PL §60.35, must collect a mandatory surcharge and crime victim assistance fee at sentencing for a felony, misdemeanor, or violation level conviction.

    7. Intervention programs for men who batter are not to be used as a mechanism for adjustment, diversion, or as an alternative to incarceration, if incarceration would otherwise be considered in sentencing. Courts, probation and other community corrections agencies should work with intervention programs for men who batter to develop mechanisms for regular reporting of program participation and compliance.

      Batterers Intervention Programs (BIPs) are an element of a predictable and comprehensive court response to domestic violence, not a substitute for one. Criminal and Family Courts should work in conjunction with enforcement agencies, such as probation, and with batterers programs, to develop monitoring systems that are responsive to the needs of particular communities and that prioritize victim safety. Probation or local contractors who provide supervision services are best equipped to monitor compliance with the BIP.

      Non-compliance should carry significant consequences, such as a violation of probation. In situations in which participation in a batterers program has been mandated but is not part of a formal sentence, such as through a Family Court order of protection or pre-trial release, courts and BIPs should develop written protocols for monitoring compliance. In addition, mechanisms should be developed that allow the BIP to file the petition for a violation of the order of protection with the court in cases involving lack of compliance with the program, rather than require the victim to do so. BIPs need to be in regular communication with probation and designated court staff in order to ensure compliance with the program, and offenders should be informed that such communication will occur and that violations will be acted upon.

      Courts should not order interventions such as substance abuse or mental health counseling for batterers as a response to the abusive conduct, or in lieu of a criminal justice sanction, such as probation supervision. Of course, such referrals may be indicated as a response to a non-domestic violence-related issue, such as a mental health or substance abuse problem. When battering is subsequently identified in a case unrelated to domestic violence, the policy of substance abuse professionals should be to inform the court of this assessment as a potential relapse issue (see Substance Abuse Treatment System, 2.d.). The court should then consider a modification of the court order to include other special conditions, an order of protection, or probation supervision.


  1. SYSTEMS' RESPONSIBILITY

    1. Comprehensive written domestic violence policies and protocols should be developed and regularly updated for each court, criminal justice agency, probation department, and other community corrections agencies.

      To the fullest extent possible, such policies/protocols should be developed with the active participation of line staff and others who will be responsible for day-to-day implementation. It is critical that such policies be developed in consultation with local domestic violence advocates, service providers, and task forces, and be representative of all members of the community. In addition, such policies/protocols should be made publicly available and efforts should be made to conduct outreach to victims and potential victims to inform them of any policy changes.

    2. Written procedures should be developed for intervening in situations where officers of the court, court staff, law enforcement, or probation and other community corrections professionals are involved in domestic incidents, become the subject of an order of protection, or are identified as having been convicted of domestic violence misdemeanors or felonies.

      In addition to ensuring compliance with relevant state and federal law, such policies should outline appropriate supervisory/administrative action, such as reassignment pending investigation, confiscation of weapons, suspension, and referral to employee assistance or psychological services, when indicated. (See Employers, Abuser Accountability.)

      In addition, judges should recuse themselves from cases in which they have a personal relationship with any of the parties involved, which is a particular issue in smaller, rural communities.

    3. All judges and court staff, legal practitioners, criminal justice agency staff, probation officers, and community corrections professionals should receive training in the dynamics and prevalence of domestic violence, in relevant provisions of state and federal law and regulations, in the organization's domestic violence policy/protocol, and in job-specific responsibilities. Training should also be provided to develop basic skills in identifying and documenting cases, conducting risk and danger assessments, basic safety planning, and intervention strategies.

      Specialized in-service training and legal updates should be provided on a regular basis; similar material should be included in orientation programs for all new staff. Wherever possible, training should be multi-disciplinary and opportunities should be created for cross-training between contingent systems (i.e., detectives and prosecutors; juvenile officers, law guardians, and child welfare staff). Training plans and programs should be developed in consultation with, and include the active participation of, local domestic violence service providers.

    4. In domestic violence-related cases, courts should limit the appointment of assigned counsel and law guardians to those attorneys who can demonstrate, to the court's satisfaction, that they have received adequate domestic violence training.

      For law guardians, this training should include the prevalence and dynamics of domestic violence, relevant provisions of state and federal law, the effects of domestic violence on child witnesses, and the relationship between witnessing domestic violence and subsequent juvenile delinquency or crime. Counties should develop a mechanism for providing well-trained attorneys for victims of domestic violence in Family Court at the onset of the proceeding, such as through an agreement with a local law school or legal clinic.

    5. All criminal justice, community corrections, and legal system professionals should be adequately supervised and held accountable for their participation in implementing their organization's domestic violence policy/protocol.

      Mechanisms should be developed to identify, counsel, discipline or otherwise hold accountable staff whose conduct is inconsistent with organizational policy/protocols and to provide opportunities for retraining, if necessary. Similarly, organizations should identify incentives and rewards for exemplary performance.

    6. Criminal justice, legal, and judicial agencies should develop mechanisms to monitor and improve the implementation of their agency policy/protocol.

      This includes regular and ongoing supervisory review of reports, case files, supervision and/or service plans; the development of systems of crime analysis and case management; the development of measures for tracking adjournments in contemplation of dismissal; the development of plans for regular policy review and revision; the development of surveys of victims to assess their experiences with the system; and the assignment of domestic violence cases to experienced, rather than novice, staff.

    7. Organizational policies/protocols should identify at least one person, preferably a team, to coordinate training and implementation activities, and to participate in case management teams, interagency meetings, and community task forces or coalitions.

      Ideally, such representatives will have sufficient authority to enter into joint decision-making and mutual agreements.

    8. As part of participating in domestic violence task forces or coalitions, criminal justice agencies, probation and other community corrections agencies, and courts should develop interagency agreements that provide mechanisms for effective communication and case management.

      Written interagency protocols or agreements should be developed between contingent elements of the criminal justice, legal, and judicial systems. Again, it should be noted that such protocols exist to establish clear lines of communication and accountability, and in no way reflect a prejudgement of the facts in any given case. Similar agreements should be developed with other institutions and community agencies (i.e., domestic violence service providers, victim advocates, emergency medicine, hospitals and health care providers, child protective, mental health). These agreements should form a basis for clear communication, shared expectations, and reinforcing responses.