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Prosecution of Domestic Violence Offenses, Final Report

NCJ Number
Date Published
163 pages
The American Prosecutors Research Institute conducted a self-administered, national mail survey of domestic violence prosecution that queried local prosecutors from a cross-section of prosecutor offices in every region of the United States, and case study assessments of domestic violence prosecution programs in California, Washington, and Minnesota complemented the survey.
The survey sample was random but stratified according to population and demographics of participating jurisdictions. The sample was identified using the National District Attorneys Association list of all elected and appointed prosecutors in the United States. The survey was administered in two stages, a first mailing to large jurisdictions and a second mailing to small jurisdictions. The examination of three prosecutor-led domestic violence programs permitted researchers to identify criminal justice system factors that facilitated or constrained the effective prosecution of domestic violence offenses. Each case study involved interviews with key program personnel and domestic violence victims and a review of domestic violence case files. The analysis of survey findings focused on case management, screening, and charging; victim support programs; defendant and victim characteristics; disposition and sentencing; victim safety issues; and perceptions of criminal justice professional interaction and performance. Survey results reflected a growing commitment by district attorneys to vigorously prosecute domestic violence. Prosecutors in large jurisdictions seemed to be constantly searching for the most effective means of bringing domestic violence offenders to justice. Prosecutors in small jurisdictions appeared to have made strides toward aggressive prosecution of domestic violence offenders but were constrained by factors such as lack of adequate resources and limited experience. The case study assessments of domestic violence prosecution programs revealed prosecutors actively stretched artificial boundaries of the criminal justice system to include victim advocacy as part of their official domestic violence control strategies. A problematic area for prosecutors involved facilitating victim cooperation. Victims identified several systemic factors that impeded relations between them and the criminal justice system. Appendixes contain a literature review and additional information on data collection procedures, victim interviews, and case study assessments. References, footnotes, and tables

Date Published: January 1, 1996