U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government, Department of Justice.

NCJRS Virtual Library

The Virtual Library houses over 235,000 criminal justice resources, including all known OJP works.
Click here to search the NCJRS Virtual Library

Similar Punishment? Comparing Sentencing Outcomes in Domestic and Non-Domestic Violence Cases

NCJ Number
British Journal of Criminology Volume: 54 Issue: 5 Dated: September 2014 Pages: 849-872
Christine E. W. Bond; Samantha Jeffries
Date Published
September 2014
24 pages
This study conducted multivariate analysis of the sentencing of domestic-violence and non-domestic-violence offenders convicted in the New South Wales (Australia) lower courts between January 2009 and June 2012.
The findings indicate that when sentenced under statistically similar circumstances, domestic-violence offenders were less likely to be sentenced to prison than those offenders who committed violent offenses in other than domestic contexts. Even after adjusting for other demographic, legal, and case characteristics. This suggests that domestic violence is not viewed as equally serious as non-domestic violence. In addition, when domestic-violence offenders were sentenced to prison (typically those who had committed repeat offenses), the length of imprisonment was shorter than that received by those offenders who committed violence in other than a domestic context. Out of the 64,201 cases that received sentences for a violent offense, 17,382 involved domestic violence. The authors advise that although the substantive impact of the sentencing difference between the two categories of violent offenses was small, it is a concern that judges viewed domestic-violence offenders as less culpable, the harms they inflict on victims less serious, and the social costs less significant than cases that involve violence committed in other contexts. The authors recommend that future research in this area go beyond numerical examinations of court administrative databases to include qualitative analyses of information contained in court files and transcripts, such as judicial sentencing remarks and pre-sentence reports. This research should also include interviews with judges and courtroom observation studies. 5 tables and 76 references