May 27, 2016

Primary Aggressor Laws in Connecticut and Surrounding States

OLR Report 2015-R-0302 summarizes Connecticut’s domestic violence arrest laws and the primary aggressor provisions in nearby states.

A primary aggressor law generally requires police officers, when considering whether to make an arrest in a domestic violence situation, to attempt to identify the “primary aggressor” by evaluating factors such as the comparative injuries the parties suffered and whether either party (1) has threatened or is threatening to harm another family or household member, (2) has a history of domestic violence or domestic violence complaints that can be reasonably ascertained, or (3) acted in self-defense.  

Connecticut, Maine, New Jersey, New York, and Rhode Island have mandatory arrest laws which require police to make an arrest in cases in which they have probable cause of a domestic violence incident. Of those states, Connecticut is the only one without primary aggressor provisions. Massachusetts and New Hampshire do not mandate arrests but it is the preferred response. In Vermont, officers have discretion to make an arrest and there is no preferable response.

To read the full report, click here.