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Explaining the IPV Arrest Decision: Incident, Agency, and Community Factors

NCJ Number
Criminal Justice Review Volume: 36 Issue: 1 Dated: 2011
Date Published
January 2011

Using data from three national data sets, the authors examined the contributions of incident, agency, and community factors on the police arrest decisions in cases of intimate partner violence, independently considering atypical cases of women arrested and dual arrest.


Over the last half century in the United States, we have seen the criminal system become increasingly aggressive in its response to violence against intimate partners. Although policies have been implemented to encourage arrest, police continue to maintain discretion over whether or whom to arrest in cases of intimate partner violence (IPV). The findings from the current study reveal that incident factors account for the majority of the variance in arrest for single arrest cases, more so than factors associated with the particular police agency or the community in which the alleged crime occurred. The frequency of dual arrest is affected more by community factors. The findings from this study can be used to guide police training and local policies as well as to inform legislation designed to prevent variance in arrest based on sociodemographic and other extralegal factors. (Publisher abstract provided)

Date Published: January 1, 2011