If You Call the Police, Can You Still Be Arrested?

By Jedidiah McKeehan

Occasionally, I will represent someone charged with a crime and they will say something to me like, “They arrested me, and I am the one who called the police!”

Unfortunately, if you call the police, and they arrive and they believe that you have committed a crime, they will arrest you, even if you initially called the police seeking assistance.

This circumstance most often arises in domestic violence disputes. Someone calls the police to intervene in a domestic dispute, and then the police arrest the person who called them to the scene of the dispute.

The reason this may happen can likely be traced to Tennessee Code Annotated section 36-3-619.

It states that when an officer is responding to a scene, and when they arrive both people make complaints about the other person’s behavior, the officer is to determine which person is the primary aggressor.

The law states that “Arrest is the preferred response only with respect to the primary aggressor. The officer shall presume that arrest is not the appropriate response for the person or persons who were not the primary aggressor. If the officer believes that all parties are equally responsible, the officer shall exercise such officer’s best judgment in determining whether to arrest all, any or none of the parties.”

So, if you call the police out to the scene of a domestic incident, but the officers determine that you were the primary aggressor in the incident, they may arrest you anyway.

Jedidiah McKeehan is an attorney practicing in Knox County and surrounding counties.  He works in many areas, including family law, criminal, and personal injury. Visit attorney-knoxville.com for more information about this legal issue and other legal issues.