Domestic Violence Cases: What Research Shows About Arrest and Dual Arrest Rates

Published July 25, 2008

Introduction

Section 2 — Past Research on Dual Arrests

Previous research has provided a number of theories about why arrest rates in domestic violence incidents have increased and why women are being arrested more frequently.

However, these studies have been limited by:

  • Small sample sizes. Past studies only include data from one jurisdiction or several jurisdictions in one state.
  • Lack of comprehensive research. Past studies have not compared the police response in domestic to non-domestic violence cases or examined the many factors that influence the police's decision to make an arrest.

Past theories about why domestic violence arrest rates have increased examine state laws and jurisdiction policies and the way officers and victims react to domestic violence incidents. For instance, laws have expanded so that officers no longer have to witness the crime to make a warrantless arrest. Also, these laws cover many types of domestic relationships, including married couples, couples who live together, blood relatives, couples with a child together, and couples who are dating. A number of other theories to explain increases in arrest are described in the full report (pdf, 201 pages).

Past theories also suggest that officers are more likely to arrest women, either as primary offenders or in dual arrests. The reasons officers may arrest more women are unclear, but studies say this may have to do with the fact that officers want to make fair, unbiased arrests, and choose to arrest all violent parties in a domestic dispute. A number of other theories on why officers are more likely to arrest women either as primary offenders or in dual arrests are described in the full report (pdf, 201 pages).

Past studies suggest dual arrests occur because officers fail to identify a primary offender. A number of other theories on increases in dual arrest rates are described in the full report (pdf, 201 pages).

Date Created: July 25, 2008