A Multi-Level Analysis of Prosecutorial Discretion: The Dismissa of Criminal Homicide Cases

John A. Humphrey, University of North Carolina - Greensboro
Meredith Huey, University of North Carolina - Greensboro

Variations in the prosecutorial decision to dismiss an arrest charge of criminal homicide or to go forward with the case are considered. A multi-level analysis is provided of the effects of the region of the country, location of the homicide-private residence of the offender or victim, public building, open space, or secluded area-the social characteristics of the offender and victim, their social relationship, and the legitimacy of their meeting on the decision to dismiss the case. Data are drawn from Murder in Large Urban Counties, 1988 (BJS, 1996). Logistic regression techniques are used to analyze the 2,030 cases of single offender- victim homicides. The findings show wide regional variations in the propensity to dismiss criminal homicide charges. Imbedded within the regional differences in prosecutorial discretion are the effects of the physical location of the homicide, its structural characteristics, and legitimacy of the offender-victim contact on the decision to dismiss the case.

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Updated 05/20/2006