September 17, 2015 Articles

Prosecuting Domestic Violence Cases

An examination of mandatory arrest and no-drop policies in the prosecution of domestic violence cases.

By Farrah Champagne

Last night I heard the screaming
Loud voices behind the wall
Another sleepless night for me
It won’t do no good to call
The police,
Always come late
If they come at all

And when they arrive
They say they can’t interfere
With domestic affairs
Between a man and his wife
And as they walk out the door
The tears well up in her eyes.

Last night I heard the screaming
Then a silence that chilled my soul
I prayed that I was dreaming
When I saw the ambulance in the road
And the policeman said
“I’m here to keep the peace
Will the crowd disperse
I think we all could use some sleep”

—Tracy Chapman, “Behind the Wall,” on Tracy Chapman (SBK April Music Inc./Purple Rabbit Music 1983).

Domestic violence is a serious crime, and it should be recognized as such by judges, law enforcement, and prosecutors. The best way to attack this problem is through the criminal justice system. If we as a society treat domestic violence the same way we treat any other violent crime against a stranger, the problem will likely decrease. According to attorneys who prosecute domestic violence, “there’s one thing that batterers take seriously: a brush with the law.” See “Giving Batterers Their Due: Two Vital Bills Aimed at Curbing Domestic Violence Could Get Lost in Shuffle,” L.A. Times, Aug. 27, 1992, at B6.

This article argues that the most effective method of domestic violence reduction is mandatory arrest and no-drop prosecution policies.

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