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Victim Cooperation and the Prosecution of Domestic Violence in a Specialized Court

NCJ Number
Justice Quarterly Volume: 18 Issue: 3 Dated: September 2001 Pages: 593-622
Myrna Dawson; Ronit Dinovitzer
Date Published
September 2001
30 pages
A study of domestic violence cases in a specialized court in Toronto, ON, Canada, examined the role of victim cooperation in the prosecution of these cases and sought to determine the factors that influenced victim cooperation.
The K-Court aimed to improve the criminal justice response to intimate partner violence and related crimes. The study collected data from April 1997 through March 1998 on 474 cases from the initial laying of a charge to the final disposition. The data collection period roughly corresponded to the first year of the K-Court initiative. The study used multivariate analysis to control for other factors relevant to the likelihood of prosecution in a specialized domestic violence court. Results revealed that the odds that a case would be prosecuted were seven times higher when prosecutors perceived a victim to be cooperative than if a victim was not perceived to be cooperative even in a court designed to minimize reliance on victim cooperation through the use of other types of evidence. Results also revealed that the two most important determinants of victim cooperation were the availability of videotaped testimony and meetings between victims and victim/witness assistance workers. Findings underscored the importance of victim cooperation in prosecutorial decision making and indicated the need to use victims’ experiences throughout the criminal justice process in developing policies that seek to improve the criminal justice response to domestic violence. Tables, footnotes, and 63 references (Author abstract modified)