Moving on or dropping out: police processing of adult sexual assault cases

Author(s)Kelley, Kathleen D., and Rebecca Campbell
Title Moving on or dropping out: police processing of adult sexual assault cases
Source Women & Criminal Justice,2013, Vol. 23, No.1, pp 1-18
Date 2013
Document type Journal article
Coverage USA
Summary This study explores the factors that may predict which sexual assault cases police refer to prosecutors. The authors analyse adult sexual assault police reports from three Midwestern law enforcement agencies, coding the cases to indicate referred cases, police non-referred cases and cases withdrawn by victims. Within the broad thematic codes multiple sub-codes were developed with over 200 variables. It was found that victim and suspect demographics did not predict police referral outcomes but the victim being under the influence of alcohol at the time of the assault is predictive of the criminal justice system response. Multiple evidentiary case characteristics were predictive of police referral decisions such as when the police interviewed a suspect and the likelihood the case would be referred to the prosecutor. It was also found that victims who did not undergo a sexual assault forensic examination were more likely to withdraw from the process. A major limitation of the study was the reliance on archival police records as the sole data source and the inconsistent quality of these reports.
Keywords Sexual assault; criminal justice system; police; investigation; prosecution.
Topic Sexual assault