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How Sexual Assault Cases Progress Further With SANE: Examining the Factors

Date Published
October 28, 2009

Sidebar to the article Increasing Sexual Assault Prosecution Rates by Philip Bulman.

Many investigations of suspected crimes do not result in convictions because law enforcement agencies do not refer every case to prosecutors and prosecutors do not pursue every case, often due to inadequate evidence. Of those cases that are prosecuted, many fail to reach a finding of guilt.

This research shows that SANE programs resulted in more cases progressing further:

  • The number of cases referred to prosecutors but not warranted for prosecution declined from 17 percent to 15 percent.
  • Cases resulting in guilty pleas or trial convictions rose from 24 percent to 29 percent.

Advances in DNA testing technology mean that much smaller samples can yield results. This may have increased the rates of conclusive DNA evidence obtained by SANE programs. When the research team examined this possibility, it found that while DNA was a significant predictor of case progression through the criminal justice system, SANE programs still provided uniquely positive contributions to the outcomes of cases.

Other factors also influenced case progression:

  • Cases involving penetration were more likely to progress than those involving fondling.
  • Cases where the victim reported being under the influence of alcohol or drugs were less likely to progress.
  • Some seasonal variations arose from the analysis. Cases processed in December were less likely to progress as far through the criminal justice system as those cases processed in other months.

About This Article

This article appeared in NIJ Journal Issue 264, November 2009, as a sidebar to the article Increasing Sexual Assault Prosecution Rates by Philip Bulman.

Date Published: October 28, 2009