Domestic Violence Mandatory Arrest Laws: To What Extent Do They Influence Police Practice?

David Hirschel, University of Massachusetts Lowell
Eve Buzawa, University of Massachusetts Lowell
April Pattavina, University of Massachusetts Lowell
Melissa M. Reuland, Police Executive Research Forum
Donald Faggiani, Police Executive Research Forum

The piecemeal research that has been conducted indicates that intimate partner violence arrest rates have risen as a result of passage of mandatory and preferred arrest domestic violence laws. However, this research also suggests that part of this increase is attributable to the police arresting both parties involved in an incident, carrying out what are known as "dual arrests." To date no large-scale research project has examined the comparative effects of mandatory, preferred, and discretionary warrantless arrest laws on arrest practices in intimate partner violence cases and the extent to which the increased rates of arrest are attributable to "dual arrests." Of additional interest is the issue of whether strongr intimate partner violence arrest laws lead to increased arrest rates in other domestic and non-domestic violence cases.

Using calendar year 2000 NIBRS assault data from 2,821 police departments in 19 states, this paper examines the differential likelihood of arrest in intimate partner, other family, acquaintance, and stranger assaults and the effect that the statutory framework has on the likelihood of arrest. The implications of the findings for policy-makers are addressed.

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Updated 05/20/2006