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

Published June 2009

Chapter 7. Judicial Responses

Section 3 — What should the response be when the suspect is brought in on an arrest or court-default warrant?

A large percentage of alleged abusers leave the crime scene before law enforcement arrives. Where noted, absence rates range from 42 to 66 percent. [23, 50, 117, 227, 228] Pursuing them, including the issuance of warrants, is associated with reduced revictimization. [50] Pursuing absent suspects may be of particular utility because limited research finds that suspects who flee the scene before police arrive are significantly more likely to have prior criminal histories and higher reabuse rates than those arrested at the scene. [23] Similarly, another study also finds higher reabuse if the victim is gone when officers arrive. [228]

Similarly, decreasing defendant defaults may also be associated with reduced reabuse. A study of Cook County's four misdemeanor domestic violence courts found that no-show defendants had a significantly greater number of new arrests than those who showed up in court (0.78 compared to 0.46). [107]

Implications for Judges

Judges should treat alleged abusers who are brought to court on warrants at least as seriously as those arrested at the scene, even if the defendant appeared "voluntarily" to clear up the warrant. (Research basis: Numerous studies confirm that a large proportion of abusers flee the scene; only one study has looked at differences in records of those who fled the scene and those who didn't.)

Date Created: June 5, 2009