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

Published June 2009

Chapter 6. Prosecution Responses

Section  19 — What characterizes specialized prosecution units?

An analysis of dozens of responses of prosecutors' offices to domestic violence found that the following dimensions characterized their responses: (1) responsiveness to victims (treating them as if they were civil plaintiffs as opposed to treating them dispassionately as witnesses to a crime), (2) treatment of suspects, (3) expectations for victim participation in prosecution, (4) specialization, and (5) information utilization. [227] The specialized units in upstate New York, unlike in other prosecutors' offices, were more likely to track: (1) cases for specialized prosecution, (2) data to inform the pressing of charges for recidivists, (3) data to inform sentencing recommendations, and (4) routinely received police incident reports as well as police arrest reports. In addition, specialized domestic violence units were more likely to participate in task forces or coalitions involving other criminal justice and community agencies involved in responding to domestic violence. [227]

Performance Measure: Most large prosecutors' offices have special domestic violence units, allowing for innovations such as vertical prosecution for misdemeanors, improved case preparation, greater contact with victims, reduced caseloads and more malleable court scheduling. [160] One-third of prosecutors in small and medium-sized cities across upstate New York also had specialized domestic violence prosecution programs, half of which made victim advocates available to victims. [227] (Research basis: A 2000 mail survey of 200 of the largest jurisdictions in 45 counties of upstate New York.)

Date Created: June 5, 2009