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

Publised June 2009

Chapter 2. Reporting and Arrests

Section 5 — Who else reports domestic violence?

Most domestic violence reports are called in by victims, with victim report rates ranging from 59 percent [228] to 93 percent. [68] The review of NCVS reassaults between 1992 and 2002 found that 72 percent of the reassaults were reported by the victims, and 28 percent by third parties. [63] Third parties include family members, relatives and sometimes the suspects themselves. In Chicago's domestic violence misdemeanor court, 26 percent of the calls were made by third parties on their own, and another 7.3 percent called at the direct behest of the victim. [107] Third parties are more likely to call police if the incident involved major injuries or a weapon. [23, 27] Other family members are significantly more likely to report abuse of elderly women (60 years and older) abused by other family members, usually sons, daughters or grandsons. [139]

Implications for Law Enforcement

Tapes of 911 domestic violence calls should be routinely maintained and accessible, as they may contain possible excited utterance evidence, because a majority of calls reporting incidents are made by victims (some of whom may be reluctant to testify later). In addition, the identities and contact information for third-party domestic violence callers should be elicited when possible in case they are potential witnesses. Dispatchers should be trained on these matters. (Research basis: Multiple national and local observational studies.)

Implications for Prosecutors

Prosecutors should ask law enforcement to catalog and maintain 911 tapes of domestic violence calls (since they may contain possible excited utterance evidence) because a majority of reported incidents are made by victims, some of whom may be reluctant to testify later. In addition, the identities and contact information for third-party domestic violence callers should be elicited when possible, in case they are potential incident witnesses. Dispatchers should be trained toward these ends, and this information should be forwarded to prosecutors. (Research basis: Multiple national and local observational studies.)

Date Created: June 5, 2009