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

Published June 2009

Chapter 6. Prosecution Responses

Section  16 — Are defendants who don't show up in court more at risk for reabusing than those who do?

A Chicago study found that no-show defendants prosecuted by a specialized prosecution team had a significantly greater number of post-arrests than those that showed up in court (0.78 vs. 0.46). [107] Although this has not been examined elsewhere, in a Berkeley arrest study, researchers similarly documented that having a pending warrant at the time of the domestic violence incident was a significant predictor of reabuse. [228] The Quincy, Mass., arrest study also found that suspects who fled the scene before the police arrived were significantly more likely to reabuse than those suspects arrested at the scene. [23]

Implications for Prosecutors

If defendants default in court before their sentencing, prosecutors should consider them at higher risk for reabusing. (Research basis: Although only one study looked at this issue directly, several others found the same association between defendant conduct — not showing up in court — and risk of reabusing their victim before being prosecuted for the original abuse.)

Date Created: June 5, 2009