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

Published June 2009

Chapter 6. Prosecution Responses

Section  8 — Should prosecutors follow victim preferences when prosecuting offenders?

Although victim perceptions of the dangerousness of suspects have been found to be good predictors of subsequent revictimization [23, 112, 113], victim preferences on how the case should be prosecuted are not good predictors. The victims in the Quincy study who wanted the charges dropped were as likely to be revictimized (51 vs. 48 percent after one year) as those who did not want the charges dropped. [23] Similarly, studies in New York found that victim cooperation with prosecutors did not predict recidivism. In other words, if prosecutors proceeded with uncooperative victims, these victims were no more or less likely to be revictimized than victims who cooperated with prosecutors. [145]

Implications for Prosecutors

Although prosecutors should listen to victims, they should explain to victims (and, as important, to defendants) that the decision to prosecute cannot be based solely on victims' preferences.

Date Created: June 5, 2009