Lauren Meaux, Marissa Stanziani, Adam Coffey, and Dr. Cox Published in Journal of Interpersonal Violence!
Cox, J., *Meaux, L.T., *Stanziani, M., *Coffey, C.A., & Daquin, J. (2019). Partiality in prosecution? Discretionary prosecutorial decision making and intimate partner violence. Journal of Interpersonal Violence.
In the United States, prosecutors are typically allotted a large amount of discretion when litigating a criminal case. Although some level of discretion is necessary for various reasons (e.g., lack of resources), concerns have arisen in both scholarly and popular discourse that prosecutorial discretion remains generally unchecked. Furthermore, research suggests prosecutors may be influenced by extralegal factors when making decisions about how to proceed with criminal charges. In this study, prosecutors responded to a case of alleged intimate partner violence, in which the sex and sexual orientation of the defendant and victim were manipulated. Neither sex nor sexual orientation impacted prosecutor choice to proceed with charges, the severity of the charge selected, or the harshness of the plea bargain offered. However, prosecutors were more willing to proceed without the victim’s cooperation when the victim was female and perceived heterosexual males as more aggressive than heterosexual females. These data suggest prosecutorial decision making in cases of intimate partner violence may not be unduly influenced by defendant/victim sex and sexual orientation.