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Comparison of Two Prosecution Policies in Cases of Intimate Partner Violence: Mandatory Case Filing Versus Following the Victim's Lead

NCJ Number
Criminology & Public Policy Volume: 7 Issue: 4 Dated: November 2008 Pages: 633-662
Date Published
November 2008
30 pages
This study compared outcomes of prosecution policies for domestic-violence cases in two boroughs of New York City, one in which arrest cases generally are filed (Brooklyn) and one in which cases typically are not filed when the victim does not want to proceed (the Bronx).
There was not a lower recidivism rate in Brooklyn as a result of its mandatory filing policy. A comparison of new arrests for assault, menacing, or harassment found no difference between the two boroughs. Regarding victims’ preference regarding the different prosecution policies, however, domestic-violence victims in both boroughs generally favored the Brooklyn policy of filing all cases, especially when the prosecution could proceed without the victim‘s participation. Victims apparently felt that although the decision to proceed to prosecution would be taken out of their control, they preferred to leave the decision about prosecution to those experienced in dealing with domestic violence cases. Further, they felt too emotionally torn to weigh all the factors involved in making the decision themselves. The Brooklyn policy is more costly, and most cases were ultimately dismissed. The findings support an intermediate policy of filing most cases but dropping them sooner in order to give victims a voice while avoiding heavy investments in cases likely to be dismissed. The study was designed to compare outcomes in cases that were declined for prosecution in the Bronx with similar cases that were prosecuted in Brooklyn. The study first analyzed 102 declined and 102 prosecuted cases in the Bronx so as to determine what factors predicted the decision not to prosecute. Applying these criteria to Brooklyn cases, the study compared 272 cases declined for prosecution in the Bronx with 211 cases that were filed in Brooklyn but probably would have been declined in the Bronx. 3 tables, 1 figure, and 31 references

Date Published: November 1, 2008