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Prosecution and Conviction Rates for Intimate Partner Violence

NCJ Number
Criminal Justice Review Volume: 34 Issue: 1 Dated: March 2009 Pages: 44-79
Date Published
March 2009
36 pages

In a review of English studies, this article summarizes the nature and extent of prosecution for intimate partner violence, challenging the widely accepted notion that prosecution and conviction for this offense are infrequent.


Based on the 135 reports from more than 170 jurisdictions in 5 countries, approximately one-third of intimate partner violence offenses reported to the police result in a prosecution and three-fifths of arrests result in charges being filed. Also, about one-third of the arrests and more than half the prosecutions result in a conviction. It is concluded that when intimate partner violence is reported to the police or to prosecutors, local criminal justice systems produce highly variable prosecution and conviction rates and that, on average, these rates are notably more substantial than most previous reviews have recognized. Several limitations to the conclusions drawn are presented and discussed. It is noted that future research on the criminal justice response to intimate partner violence will be stronger if it improves on the measurement of case processing and disposition, captures salient characteristics of studied jurisdictions, and tracks large representative samples of reported offenses to the completion of criminal justice processing over time. The prosecution of intimate partner violence is thought to be infrequent, as is the rate at which those prosecutions result in a criminal conviction. This review of 135 studies sought to identify, document, and summarize all the existing studies that report the amount of prosecution or conviction for intimate partner violence. Tables, appendixes 1-5, notes, and references

Date Published: March 1, 2009