Practical Implications of Current Domestic Violence Research: For Law Enforcement, Prosecutors and Judges

Published June 2009

Chapter 3. Offender Characteristics

Section 17 — What factors are not associated with reabuse?

Generally, the seriousness of the presenting incident does not predict reabuse, whether felony or misdemeanor, including whether there were injuries or not, or what the specific charge is. [23, 39, 134, 141, 145, 172] Abuser personality types have not been found to be associated with increased risk of reabuse. [113] Actuarial data offer improvement over clinical data. [189] Victim characteristics, including relationship with abuser, marital status, and whether the parties are living together or separated, have not been found to predict reabuse. [23] At least one study has found that victim cooperation does not predict recidivism. [145]

Implications for Law Enforcement

Criteria for charges should not be confused with criteria for determining future risk. Abusers cited for misdemeanors are as likely to be dangerous as those charged with felonies. (Research basis: Wide agreement among multiple studies across the nation involving different abuser populations.)

Implications for Prosecutors

Criteria for charges should not be confused with criteria for determining future risk. Abusers charged with misdemeanors are as likely to be dangerous as those charged with felonies. If the offense against a dangerous defendant is not chargeable as a felony, prosecutors should explore the applicability of enhancement statutes for repeat offenses, multiple charges if appropriate, or maximum allowable sentencing recommendations. (Research basis: Wide agreement among multiple studies across the nation involving different abuser populations.)

Implications for Judges

Criteria for charges should not be confused with criteria for determining future risk. Abusers charged with misdemeanors are as likely to be dangerous as those charged with felonies. Although constrained by statute, judges should seek to minimize offender risk to the maximum extent allowable by law. (Research basis: Wide agreement among multiple studies across the nation involving different abuser populations.)

Date Created: January 30, 2009