If you, or your children, are in immediate danger from the abuser right now, call 999 and ask for the Gardaí.
If you’re safe from the abuser right now, but a crime has been committed against you, you may want to report it to the Gardaí. Then, they can investigate and the crime can be prosecuted through the criminal courts.
You can get advice on making that decision. Support is also available at each stage of the criminal justice process, if you decide to go ahead with it.
Below, you will find some information on the steps involved in reporting a crime.
Keep any evidence
Keep anything which might be useful as evidence in a secure place. This includes such things as torn clothes, broken furniture or other belongings, and any object which was used as a weapon against you.
Know your rights
You are entitled to bring someone with you to the Garda Station when you report the crime, and also when you make a formal written statement about what happened to you. You can also bring your solicitor, however there is no Legal Aid available for this.
You can ask your local domestic violence service to arrange someone to accompany you to the Garda Station, to provide support.
Be aware that you have certain rights to information and other supports. Learn more.
Making a statement
The statement is usually taken by appointment a few days after the initial report is made, and you can ask for a woman Garda to take your statement if you prefer. It does not have to be taken in a Garda Station, any quiet and secure place where you feel comfortable may be used instead.
You are entitled to have a copy of your statement.
The Garda investigating the case will ask you some questions to assess not only what happened but also any “specific protection needs” you may have. They must do this in order to find out if they should supply (or recommend to a prosecutor) any extra support or “measure” as it is called, to help protect you and to enable you to give your evidence more easily.
An example is: giving evidence by video-link in Court. While the Gardaí cannot guarantee that the judge will allow this, they can recommend that it is provided. Another example is: advising you to get a barring order or other order under the Domestic Violence Act.
The Gardaí will investigate the crime, based on what you say in your statement. Give the Gardaí as much detail as possible about what happened, and if you are not sure about any point, say so.
If you remember something later which was not in your first statement, tell the Garda investigating. They can put it in a second statement.
Make sure you tell Gardaí about any additional evidence of violent or other criminal behaviour, and if you have it (e g torn clothes), give it to them as soon as possible.
If you are afraid of the accused person now, or become afraid of them at any stage, tell the Garda in the case right away.
Decision to prosecute
Once the investigation is finished, the prosecutor will decide whether the case is strong enough to go to court. This decision normally takes a few months unless the case must be tried in the District Court (in that case, waiting times may be shorter).
If the prosecutor decides not to go ahead with the case, they will tell you. You have the right to ask for the reasons for that decision, and for that decision to be reviewed, whether or not you have the reasons.
Click here for more information on how to get reasons for, and request reviews of, DPP prosecution decisions.
At the first appearance in the District Court, the issue of bail will be decided.
All cases, no matter how serious, start off in the District Court, and the most serious offences are “sent forward” for trial from the District Court to the Circuit Court or Central Criminal Court after a number of preliminary hearings in the District Court.
If the case goes to trial, find out more here about where and what will happen.