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Prosecuting Intimate Partner Sexual Assault: Legal and Extra-Legal Factors That Influence Charging Decisions

NCJ Number
Violence Against Women Volume: 21 Issue: 10 Dated: October 2015 Pages: 1237-1258
Date Published
October 2015
22 pages

Using qualitative data from 47 complaints of intimate partner sexual assault (IPSA) that were referred to Los Angeles County or City prosecution in 2008, this study examined the factors that influenced charging decisions.


Prosecutors play a crucial role in determining whether persons who are accused of IPSA will be sanctioned by the criminal justice system. Prosecutors have unconditional discretion at the initial charging stage because a case rejection decision is typically immune to review. Findings of the current study suggest that prosecutors consider both legal and extralegal factors when making charging decisions and that various cultural, legal, and rape myths surrounding IPSA influence these decisions. (Publisher abstract modified)

Date Published: October 1, 2015