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

Published June 2009

Chapter 6. Prosecution Responses

Section  11 — Can successful prosecutions be increased?

There have been multiple studies of specific prosecution efforts to significantly increase prosecution by adopting no-drop policies. Although the concept of a no-drop policy has proven elastic, the success of these programs in significantly increasing prosecution has been demonstrated in multiple jurisdictions. In the Queens Borough of New York City, prosecutors increased convictions from 24 to 60 percent. Research suggests that much of the increase was the result of increased follow-up with victims, and prosecutor's improved linkage with police (e.g., monitoring the same case log, and asking whether each of eight evidentiary items were covered in police incident reports, including photos and witness, victim and suspect statements). [159] A study of domestic violence prosecutions in two other states similarly found greatly increased conviction rates as a result of adopting no-drop policies accompanied by increased coordination with police. [196]

A study of specialized prosecution programs in Oregon and Washington that instituted no-drop policies found that increased use of evidence-based prosecution dramatically increased conviction rates, reduced processing time and initially increased trials. Dismissal rates more than halved in Everett, Wash., from 79 to 29 percent, and guilty findings increased from 10 to 53 percent (although diversion increased from 2 to 22 percent), whereas processing time declined from 109 days to 80 days. Trials increased from 1 percent to 10 percent. Conviction rates at trial were 80 percent. In Klamath Falls, Ore., only 10 to 20 percent of cases were screened out by prosecutors. Dismissals dropped from 47 to 14 percent, and convictions rose from 47 to 86 percent after introduction of evidence-based prosecution. Unlike in Everett, diverted cases dropped from 6 percent to none. Trials rose from 1 percent to 13 percent, and prosecutors won 63 percent of them. [196]

Date Created: June 5, 2009