The Response of the Prosecutor to Hate Crime Offenses

Jenifer A. Lee, Indiana University of Pennsylvania

In recent years, the role of the prosecutor in the criminal justice system has gone largely overlooked. Some previous studies (and few current studies) have focused on the factors that influence the prosecutor's decision-making process at different stages. Some of this research found that the type of offense had a significant impact on what factors (legl, extralegal, organizational) were considered in making various case-related decisions. Particularly sensitive or controversial offenses can further complicate this decision process. Hate crime offenses (and subsequent prosecution decisions) fall into this category. These offenses are further complicated by the lack of uniformity in investigation and prosecution across jurisdictions. Finally, there are several combinations of factors that could potentially influence a prosecutor's (or district attorney's office) decision to file charges and/or proceed with prosecution. This paper will address the special issues that prosecutors face when responding to these types of offenses and how these issues influence the prosecutor's decision-making.

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Updated 05/20/2006