How to Collect Evidence in a Domestic Violence Case

By Legal Editor

Domestic violence occurs when someone physically harms or threatens to harm a partner in a relationship or a family member. To prove a case of domestic violence in court, you'll need evidence of the abuse. Follow these steps to collect that evidence.

Call 911 for emergency situations. The law allows conversations relayed to emergency dispatchers as evidence, especially when yelling and verbal threats are captured on tape.

Keep accurate records of every abusive incident, including the date and time, a brief description of the perpetrator's behavior and a list of the injuries your received.

Maintain a list of witnesses to the violence. Include contact information so the authorities can call on your witnesses.

Visit the hospital and have a doctor treat any injuries. Your medical records will indicate the nature and cause of your injuries and can be vital pieces of evidence in court.

Photograph your injuries at least 2 to 3 days after you receive them and sign and date them once they are developed. Take the photos with the flash on and in color. Include a ruler in close-up shots to indicate the size of bruises and/or cuts. To prove you are the subject, make sure your face can be seen in some of the photographs.

Take pictures of any property that was destroyed due to domestic violence. Often overlooked by victims trying to collect evidence for a case, damaged property can further support claims of bodily struggle. Overturned or broken furniture, ripped clothing or scratches on doors or windows are all examples of property destruction.

Contact a family law attorney who specializes in domestic violence cases immediately. You can press charges against anyone who abuses you in your home.

Submit your evidence as part of your case and when you request a restraining order. Your attorney can advise you as to the appropriate way to present evidence in your state.

Seek help through a crisis center in your area. Advocates can help you collect further evidence, build your case and support you emotionally. To find a crisis center near you, visit the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence Web site or call (800) 799-SAFE (see Resources below).