Criminal Nuisance Abatement
What is Criminal Nuisance Abatement?
Criminal nuisance refers to a broad range of activities or conduct occurring on a property that require ongoing calls to law enforcement, that impact the safety and security of the people on and around the property, and that negatively affect the surrounding community. Examples include the presence of illegal drugs or firearms, violent felonies, gang activity or prostitution. The Delaware Criminal Nuisance Abatement Law gives the Delaware Department of Justice the ability to bring civil lawsuits to hold property owners financially accountable for the harm they have inflicted on the community.
What Can Civil Law Accomplish that Criminal Law Can’t?
If you believe that a property in your community is a criminal nuisance, you can provide the Delaware Department of Justice with a report by calling 302-577-8899 or by reporting it online at https://attorneygeneral.delaware.gov/criminal/nuisance-abatement-complaint-form/ or de.gov/nuisance.
The Department of Justice will investigate your complaint in partnership with law enforcement, examining police reports and other relevant documents.
What is the DOJ Process for Responding to Reports?
- Report: The Delaware Department of Justice (DOJ) receives word via telephone or through the on-line portal of a potential nuisance abatement property.
- Intake: Information regarding the potential nuisance property is put into DOJ’s database for monitoring.
- Review Police Activity: DOJ looks to police reports, code enforcement violations, and other relevant materials to determine if there is a pattern of conduct and communicates with law enforcement officers in the community to track the history of police activity on the property.
- Determine Whether Actionable: If the activity occurring on the property qualifies as actionable under the Delaware Criminal Nuisance Abatement Act ( 10 Del, C. 7101-7134) and, in the judgment of the Deputy Attorney General assigned to the matter, is a good fit to be addressed using this statute, the DOJ may issue a certified letter to the property owner to begin legal action. The DOJ may also request a meeting with the property owner to discuss cooperative measure to abate the nuisance on the prope
- If cooperative measures to abate the nuisance on the property are not successful, the DOJ could explore criminal or civil remedies through the courts.