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Should You Call the Police If Your Neighbors Are Fighting?

By Christopher Coble, Esq. | Last updated on

Most of us have heard the apocryphal tale of Kitty Genovese, a woman who was brutally attacked and murdered in New York in 1964 while her neighbors ignored her screams for help. While many of the details of that particular story have been refuted, anecdotes about neighbors who don't want to get involved in possible criminal situations abound.

As uncomfortable as intervention can be, none of us want to be known as the person who did nothing when calling the police might have saved someone's life. So when you hear your neighbors fighting, and it sounds bad, should you call the cops?

Duty to Report

We should start by saying that most people are under no legal obligation to call the police if they witness a crime. So you likely won't get into trouble for not calling the cops on your arguing neighbors.

That said, there still some good reasons to call police, especially if the fight sounds physically dangerous to one or both of the parties. And if you're worried about being drawn into a criminal case or domestic dispute, you can always report the incident anonymously by logging on to a police website, calling from a public phone, or simply calling 911.

Domestic Disputes

Domestic abuse and domestic violence have become more public issues, after long being swept under the proverbial rug by families, neighbors, and police. And this is a good thing. Domestic violence can be deadly, and battered women's syndrome may keep many victims of domestic abuse from seeking help themselves, in which case they many need outside help to break the cycle of violence.

And it is important to keep in mind domestic violence is not confined to husbands and wives. Children, elderly relatives, and even long-term roommates can be victims of domestic abuse. And some domestic violence victim resources may allow third parties to report incidents of domestic abuse.

Even though you may not be required to call the police if your neighbors are having a loud or violent fight, you may be saving someone's life if you do. If you're worried about any criminal implications of a domestic violence incident, you may want to contact an experienced criminal attorney.

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