The Progression of DomesticViolence Cases through Misdemeanor Court, a Longitudinal Analysis

Sophia Sakoutis, St. Xavier University
Richard T. Campbell, University of Illinois at Chicago

Over 1000 domestic violence cases were followed through the court system beginning with the initiation of the case by a complaining witness or through arrest and continuing through the eventual resolution of the case. The first author personally attended all court sessions in which cases were heard, recording both qualitative and quantitative information on each case. As cases moved through the various stages of the legal process (bond hearings, status calls, subsequent appearances in response to further complaints and in some cases trial) detailed information on the behavior of all courtroom actors including judges, witnesses and defendants was recorded. This presentation focuses on the quantitative analysis of the data. The principal independent variables are the age of the parties, their ethnic origin, what kind of legal representation the defendant had, whether defendants or witnesses were present, presence of children in the household and whether they witnessed the event, and the nature of the event. In addition, cases were heard by different judges, who varied in how they dealt with such cases. The first analysis, uses logistic regression to model the probability that the complaining witness dropped the charges, which includes the majority of such cases, and those where charges were pursued. The second uses multinomial logistic regression to examine a multi-category analysis of the outcome, distinguishing among cases which were dropped, cases in which the complaining witness received an order of protection and those in which the defendant received a Supervision Disposition, a Conditional Discharge Sentence, or most rarely jail time. Finally, the third analysis uses discrete time event history methods to study the outcome of the case at each stage of the process, modeling the outcome not just in terms of fixed characteristics of the case, but also including time-varying covariates principally involving the defendant's behavior since the first complaint was filed.

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Updated 05/20/2006