Prosecuting Domestic Violence Cases Academic Essay

ARTICLESKeywords: criminal litigation; domestic violence; prosecution; no-drop policies; mandatory arrestLast night I heard the screaming Loud voices behind the wall Another sleepless night for me It wont dono good to call The police, Always come late If they come at allAnd when they arrive They say they cant interfere With domestic affairs Between a man and his wife Andas they walk out the door The tears well up in her eyes.Last night I heard the screaming Then a silence that chilled my soul I prayed that I was dreaming When Isaw the ambulance in the road And the policeman said Im here to keep the peace Will the crowddisperse I think we all could use some sleep?Tracy Chapman, Behind the Wall, on Tracy Chapman (SBK April Music Inc./Purple Rabbit Music1983).Domestic violence is a serious crime, and it should be recognized as such by judges, law enforcement,and prosecutors. The best way to attack this problem is through the criminal justice system. If we as asociety treat domestic violence the same way we treat any other violent crime against a stranger, theproblem will likely decrease. According to attorneys who prosecute domestic violence, theres one thingthat batterers take seriously: a brush with the law. See Giving Batterers Their Due: Two Vital Bills Aimedat Curbing Domestic Violence Could Get Lost in Shuffle, L.A. Times, Aug. 27, 1992, at B6.This article argues that the most effective method of domestic violence reduction is mandatory arrest andno-drop prosecution policies.The History of Domestic ViolenceThe Supreme Court of Mississippi, in 1824, acknowledged that a husband had the right to use physicalmeans to chastise his wife. The holding in the case started a countrywide acceptance of physicalchastisement from husband to wife. See Mary E. Asmus Tineke, Prosecuting Domestic Abuse Cases inDuluth: Developing Effective Prosecution Strategies from Understanding the Dynamics of AbusiveRelationships, 15 Hamline L. Rev. 115, 116 (1991) (citing R. Emerson Dobash & Russell Dobash,Violence Against Wives: A Case Against Patriarchy 62 (1979)). A husband was permitted by law to hit hiswife without subjecting himself to vexatious prosecutions for assault and battery, resulting in the discreditand shame of all parties concerned. Thurman v. City of Torrington, 595 F. Supp. 1521, 1528 (D. Conn.1984). The evolution of permissible wife-beating defined the type of chastisement permitted, theseverity of chastisement permitted, and the timing of the chastisement permitted. See Asmus Tineke,supra, at 116.As the years passed and womens rights advocates became more prominent, the notion of permissiblephysical chastisement from husband to wife became an increasingly outdated misconception. Craig v.Boren, 429 U.S. 190, 198 (1976). The premises of the right of chastisement were looked upon asarchaic and overbroad, and courts rejected it as unconstitutional. Thurman, 595 F. Supp. at 1528 (citingCrawford v. Cushman, 531 F.2d 1114 (2d Cir. 1976)). The court in Thurman stated that a husband had noright to abuse or endanger a woman merely because she was his wife. These ideals were part of aculture that mirrored the reluctance of the courts when faced with opportunities to intervene in domesticviolence incidents. Not only were courts reluctant to interfere; law enforcement officials were also hesitantto intervene between a husband and wife in conflict. The trend continues today, and pressure needs to beplaced on judges, legislators, police, and prosecutors to modify the way domestic violence incidents arehandled. In addition, officials need to receive proper education so they will have a better understanding ofthe dynamics of intra-family violence.Many jurisdictions still do not treat domestic violence as a serious crime, and very few cases are triedeven after the police have become involved in a violent family situation. Oftentimes the legal system failsto assist victims of domestic violence until they are seriously injured or have been killed. Ann Jonesstates the problem accurately:Today in the eyes of the law, any assault is both a criminal offense and a personal tort, or wrong; anyassault may be the basis for a criminal prosecution or a civil action, or both. If you attack me in the street,the state can put you on trial and send you to jail for assault and battery, and I can sue you for damages.But in a great many jurisdictions, even today, a domestic assault is not regarded as a real assaultthat is,not really criminal. When police refuse to arrest, prosecutors to prosecute, and judges to sentence a manbecause the victim he assaulted is (or was) his wife or girlfriend, the state redefines this criminal assaultagainst a woman as a special category of violence immune from criminal law. The state magicallytransforms a crime into a non-crime.Malinda L. Seymore, Against the Peace and Dignity of the State: Spousal Violence and SpousalPrivilege, 2 Tex. Wesleyan L. Rev. 239, 278 (1995) (citing Ann Jones, Next Time, Shell Be Dead:Battering and How to Stop It, 51-52 (1994)).It is time that the criminal justice system recognize that domestic violence is a serious problem and takeserious measures to address the issue.Why Victims Recant and Refuse to Cooperate The mystery in this case, as in all battered woman cases,is why [she] remained with [him] despite repeated abuse. Dunn v. Roberts, 963 F.2d 308, 313 (10th Cir.1992).Battered women are often unaware of the realities of the criminal justice system. They do not understandthe process, they are often unprepared for the amount of time it takes to see a case through to resolution,and they often do not get the opportunity to provide much input during the plea negotiations or sentencinghearings. See Angela Corsilles, Note, No-Drop Policies in the Prosecution of Domestic Violence Cases:Guarantee to Action or Dangerous Solution?, 63 Fordham L. Rev. 853, 870 (1994). As a result, theybecome uncooperative with prosecutors when it comes time to hold their abusers accountable.Victims are often financially dependent on their abusers. The most compelling reason for an abusedwoman to remain in the home subject to more abuse is her financial dependency. Id. Abusers use powerand control to isolate their victims PLACE THIS ORDER OR A SIMILAR ORDER WITH US TODAY AND GET AN AMAZING DISCOUNT

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