Learning Unit 5: Prosecutor Response to D.V. -CRJ 461


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Learning Unit 5: Prosecutor Response to D.V. -CRJ 461

  1. 1. Prosecutor Response to Domestic Violence<br />Learning Unit 5<br />A mini content lecture designed as a supplemental learning resource for CRJ 461 by Bonnie Black. <br />
  2. 2. Represents the interest of the state or people<br />Responsibility to ensure justice is served<br />Is not the victim’s attorney despite beliefs to the contrary<br />2<br />What is the Role of the Prosecutor?<br />
  3. 3. Traditional Treatment of Victims in Criminal Justice System<br />Would you want<br />to cooperate?<br />Insensitive Questioning<br />Victim’s Fault- Blaming<br />Can’t Find Out What is Happening<br />Property kept for Long Time As Evidence<br />Time Wasted At Court<br />Indifference to Fears About Cooperating<br />Anxiety About Testifying/Questioning<br />Victim’s Needs Secondary to Conviction<br />3<br />
  4. 4. Injustices by Prosecutors<br />Conviction Focused<br />Common use of plea bargaining to dispose of high volume of cases<br />Politically motivated<br />get votes<br />appease the public<br />Little victim sensitivity<br />They are a means to an end result - conviction<br />4<br />
  5. 5. Victim Costs Associated with Participating in Criminal Justice System<br />Anxiety - Fear<br />Lack of Information<br />Delays/Continuances<br />Time From Work/Reduced Income<br />Transportation Problems<br />Babysitting Issues and costs<br />Intimidation<br />Frustration<br />Abuse<br />5<br />
  6. 6. Remedying the Plight <br />Prosecutor Strategies to Address Domestic Violence More Effectively <br />
  7. 7. REMEDY: Victim Witness Programs<br />GOAL<br />“Minimize witness <br />discontent…in order to <br />retain testimonial value”<br />Witness Management<br />7<br />
  8. 8. Victim Witness Programs<br />Began in 1975 <br />Emergence of Victim Advocates <br />Located in Police and Prosecutors Office<br />8<br />
  9. 9. Responsibilities of Victim Advocate<br />Explain the importance of cooperation <br />Inform of rights<br />Furnish information <br />Provide orientation to court process<br />Tips on recall and testifying<br />9<br />
  10. 10. Support and assistance<br />Reduces fear of unknown: educated about how the system works and role of the players<br />Reduces anxiety about participation<br />Learns about community resources<br />Direct contact in system is available to them to answer questions <br />Benefits to Victim<br />10<br />
  11. 11. Problems with Victim Witness Programs<br />NOT victim oriented; focuses on insult to society not insult to victim.<br />Based on what officials think victim needs NOT on victim wants.<br />Limited to those who report AND suspect is apprehended.<br />Based on needs of prosecutor NOT victim.<br />11<br />
  12. 12. Are victim witness programs simply a self-serving way to get a conviction on the case?<br />What are the disadvantages to the victim?<br />Think About It!<br />12<br />
  13. 13. Also called “Victimless” or “Evidence-Based” Prosecution<br />Victims desire to drop charges or unwillingness to cooperate is not a reason to dismiss the charges.<br />Prosecution is based on evidence<br />Reliance on police officers preserving and gathering evidence at the scene<br />Most D.V. cases do not go to trial<br />plea bargained<br />diversion <br />REMEDY: No Drop Policies<br />13<br />
  14. 14. Offender agrees to terms and treatment<br />Usually designed for first offenders<br />Just because a D.V. offender hasn’t been arrested, doesn’t mean there is not a long pattern of abuse<br />If successful, charges are dismissed.<br />No conviction<br />Common in lower courts; misdemeanor cases<br />Are different depending on jurisdiction and state.<br />REMEDY: Diversion<br />14<br />
  15. 15. Example: City of Phoenix Diversion <br />“What is diversion?<br />Diversion is offered to offenders who meet a specific criteria. Those who are eligible will have the option of completing a counseling program designed to prevent the defendant from committing this type of crime in the future. Upon successful completion of the program, the charges will be dismissed. Upon request of the victim, the views of the victim shall be considered in determining diversion eligibility.<br />Who qualifies for diversion?<br />The prosecutor determines at the time of prosecution whether a defendant is eligible to attend diversion. Factors that may influence the decision include:<br />Whether this is the first time charges are brought. <br />Whether a previous case has been dismissed through diversion. <br />Whether the victim is under the age of 15. <br />The severity of the offense. <br />You may learn additional information about diversion by speaking with a victim advocate at 602-261-8192.”<br />Source: City of Phoenix , Frequently Asked Questions; <br />http://phoenix.gov/VICTIMS/faqs.html<br />15<br />
  16. 16. “What happens if the defendant fails to complete diversion?<br />If the defendant fails to complete diversion, the court will find the defendant guilty. The judge will then impose the sentence that was agreed to on the diversion plea agreement.”<br />City of Phoenix Example Cont.<br />Source: City of Phoenix , Frequently Asked Questions; <br />http://phoenix.gov/VICTIMS/faqs.html<br />16<br />
  17. 17. Vertical Prosecution<br />D. V. cases are handled by the same prosecutorial team or prosecutor from time of complaint to disposition.<br />Victims don’t get shuffled around<br />Promotes cooperation<br />Specialized Prosecution Units<br />Creates level of expertise<br />Cases don’t fall through cracks<br />REMEDY: Team Approaches<br />17<br />
  18. 18. Has been referred to as “victimless prosecution.”<br />Assumes domestic violence victim won’t cooperate so focus is on the evidence in case.<br />Police role in collection and documentation of evidence is key. <br />Based on the assumption victim recantation (change his/her story) will occur.<br />REMEDY: Evidence Based Prosecution<br />18<br />
  19. 19. Tape recording victim statement or having them write it down at scene.<br />Statements of children who may have been present.<br />Photos of injuries and property damage.<br />Third party statements from witnesses or neighbors who may have heard something.<br />Medical records.<br />Audio of 911 call.<br />Examples of Evidence in D. V. Cases<br />19<br />
  20. 20. <ul><li>Allows for spontaneous and excited statements to be admitted “even if the party who said them is not present.”
  21. 21. Comes from:
  22. 22. Startling event
  23. 23. Stress from excitement of event
  24. 24. To apply, statement made while event was occurring or close thereafter</li></ul>“Excited Utterance” Use in D.V. Cases<br />What is it?<br />Exception to hearsay rule that prohibits statements from a “second party repeating what the first party said.”<br />Quote Source: “The Criminal Justice Response to Criminal<br /> Justice” by Andrew Klein, Thomson Wadsworth, 2004.<br />20<br />
  25. 25. REMEDY: Prosecutor Training on D.V.<br />Recognition that training needed to be collaborative and involve police, prosecutors, judges, probation officers, victim advocates, etc.<br />Important: Emphasis on a system wide approach to D.V. not just an agency approach<br />Funded by Violence Against Women Act<br />Focus on prosecution policies to create consistency in D.V. decisions<br />21<br />
  26. 26. Abuser Treatment: A Requirement of Diversion<br />Think About It!<br />Can abusers change?<br />22<br />
  27. 27. Can It Place The Victim At Risk?<br />Abuser treatment and research is in its infancy.<br />Popular option for prosecution and courts.<br />Certification and monitoring of programs remains lax.<br />One treatment fits all. <br />Quick fix to long term problem. <br />23<br />
  28. 28. Inappropriate Abuser Treatment<br />Couples<br />Counseling<br />Anger<br />Management<br />Programs<br />12<br />STEP<br />Support/<br />Self-Help<br />Groups<br />PROGRAM<br />24<br />
  29. 29. Indicators Of Offender Change<br />Sincerely feels distress and remorse about behavior.<br />Accepts responsibility—”Owns” problem.<br />Wants to change behavior and demonstrates it.<br />Recognizes criminality and consequences.<br />All forms of abuse cease.<br />25<br />
  30. 30. Indicators of Change Cont.<br />Is “involved” in treatment---counselor and victim recognize change.<br />Acknowledges abuse is intentional and used to control partner.<br />Accepts change as lifetime commitment not temporary fix.<br />26<br />
  31. 31. Critical Elements in Court-Ordered Abuser Treatment<br />Court notification critical if not participating.<br />Open communication/collaboration with service provider and court.<br />Success needs to focus on behavior and attitude change NOT compliance.<br />Prosecutors need to follow through with charges--courts need to impose consequences.<br />Victim safety comes first.<br />Abuser no longer blames; takes responsibility.<br />Completion is more than attendance; based on demonstrated attitude and behavior change.<br />27<br />
  32. 32. Do Batterer Treatment Programs Work?<br />California Study<br />½ completed program<br />Only 2% complete after 3 or more violations of terms/program<br />Attendance policies lenient or not followed<br />Probation departments are referring them back to program after termination rather than notifying court<br />Courts impose few consequences<br />On-site program reviews are rare<br />125 Sample<br />450 Approved Programs<br />52Weeks <br />Source: California Auditor Report, Bureau of State Auditors, November 2006<br />28<br />
  33. 33. Bottom Line:<br />One size does not fit all!<br />29<br />Abusers are all<br />different!<br />
  34. 34. AZ Dept. of Health Services Licensing Rules for Abuser Treatment<br />1st time abuser<br />Minimum 26 sessions over at least four months <br />2nd time abuser<br />Minimum 36 additional sessions (62) <br />3rd time abuser<br />Minimum 52 additional sessions (78)<br />Long term<br />Source: “A Guide for Safety and Justice in Arizona, June 2004<br />30<br />
  35. 35. Victim recantation is common in D. V. prosecution.<br />Victim Witness Programs serve the needs of prosecution but do offer benefits to the victim.<br />Diversion of D.V. cases is common with misdemeanor offenses; based on strong assumption that abuser treatment will solve the problem.<br />An evidence based approach to prosecution means police and prosecutors must work together.<br />Conclusion<br />31<br />