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

Published June 2009

Chapter 3. Offender Characteristics

Section 8 — Are abusers at risk for committing new nondomestic violence crimes?

Given their extensive prior criminal histories, abusers typically do not confine their reoffending to domestic violence alone. Studies concur that abusers are also likely to commit new nondomestic violence crimes in addition to domestic-violence-related crimes. Two New York City studies, one in the Bronx Misdemeanor Domestic Violence Court and the other in the Brooklyn Felony Domestic Violence Court, found that 58 percent of those arrested for domestic violence were rearrested for any crime within 30 months of the study arrest in the former study [164], and 44 percent within two years of arrest in the latter. [183] Most of the new arrests (according to official complaints) were for nondomestic-violence-related crimes such as drug possession/sale or property offenses.

Similarly, whereas 51 percent of Massachusetts abuser arrestees were rearrested for new domestic violence over the following 10 years, 57 percent were rearrested for nondomestic violence, including 15 percent who were not also arrested for new domestic violence. [138] Among Cook County domestic violence misdemeanants, 26.1 percent were arrested within 2.4 years on average for new domestic violence, whereas 46.5 percent were arrested for any offense. [12]

It is not surprising that research from the National Youth Survey found that most men (76 percent) who engage in domestic violence report also engaging in one or more deviant acts concurrently, including illegal behavior such as stealing or illicit drug use. [167] Nor is it surprising that abuser violence was not limited to their households. In Cook County (Chicago), the majority of prosecuted misdemeanor domestic violence offenders (55.6 percent) were found to have been violent with others as well as their partners. [107]

Implications for Law Enforcement, Prosecutors and Judges

Aggressively pursuing, prosecuting and sentencing abusers not only may protect victims and their children but also may reduce nondomestic offenses often committed by abusers. (Research basis: Although multiple, disparate studies document that abusers identified by the criminal justice system are likely to have nondomestic criminal histories, at least one study of nonarrested young married or cohabiting men also found that domestic violence and other deviant behaviors were associated both concurrently and prospectively.)

Date Created: June 5, 2009