Creating a more complete and current picture: examining police and prosecutor decision-making when processing sexual assault cases

Violence Against Women. 2012 May;18(5):525-51. doi: 10.1177/1077801212453867. Epub 2012 Jul 19.


This study sought to identify factors that predicted outcomes for sexual assault cases involving female victims across several decision-making points and compare these findings to prior studies. The results indicate that there continues to be a high attrition rate in the handling of sexual assault cases. Only 9.7% of cases examined resulted in charges. In regards to processing decisions, most of the factors that predicted whether cases were founded, resulted in arrest, presented to the prosecution, or resulted in felony charges were extralegal factors. One factor appeared to influence several decision-making points: whether officers noted discrepancies in victim statements.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Crime Victims / psychology
  • Criminal Law* / methods
  • Criminal Law* / statistics & numerical data
  • Decision Making*
  • Documentation
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Lawyers* / psychology
  • Logistic Models
  • Midwestern United States
  • Narration
  • Police*
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Sex Offenses / legislation & jurisprudence*
  • Social Control Policies*