Domestic Violence Prosecution Practices and Statistical Trends in the Seattle City Attorney s Office

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1 Domestic Violence Prosecution Practices and Statistical Trends in the Seattle City Attorney s Office Cindi Williams Director, Domestic Violence Unit Seattle City Attorney s Office

2 The cases prosecuted by the CAO s DVU Intimate partner violence Child abuse and neglect (victim is under 18 years old) Elder abuse (victim is over 60 years old with some vulnerability, exploitation, or domestic violence factor present) Vulnerable adult abuse Cases that meet the statutory requirements of domestic violence but do not meet the above requirements are typically prosecuted outside the DVU (examples: platonic roommates, adult siblings).

3 Cases included in this presentation Statistics are for intimate partner violence only, and do not include child abuse or elder abuse cases.

4 The DV prosecution model works when we respect our own role in the coordinated community response Our goals are to increase victim safety and batterer accountability. We maximize these efforts with: Using a vertical prosecution model Continuing our commitment to victim advocacy Participating in co-located programs Focusing on high-risk offenders Supporting the Domestic Violence Court Maintaining a good working relationship with law enforcement Building strong relationships with community-based agencies

5 Victim advocacy Availability and staffing of victim advocates Available to be in court with victims Assist with interviews as required by statute Make necessary contacts and take calls from victims Victim advocates meet regularly with attorneys to staff cases Ensures that victim s voice is heard in the litigation of the case Conveys information regarding victim s wishes to court Attempts to contact victims before all filings and pretrial hearings

6 Highlights of our victim advocate practices Attempted pre-filing contact in in-custody cases and then information to the victim about bail and conditions of release Safety planning with victims and referrals to resources Attempted pre-filing contact in all out-of-custody cases Gathering input regarding whether the victim supports the case and whether the victim wants an NCO Our practices include a low-barrier NCO lift and modification process for victims Updates to the victim about the case after each court hearing

7 Vertical Prosecution Prosecutors handle the same case from filing to sentencing Most cases are divided by the first letter of the suspect/defendant s last name: A-D E-K L-Q R-Z

8 Specific programs within the DVU STOP Co-located prosecutor Co-located community-based advocate Elder Abuse

9 STOP Specially Targeted Offender Program Offenders with serious history or high risk considerations Prosecuted by a designated prosecutor who carries a lower caseload and can devote more time to these cases Also handles unique or complicated cases

10 Co-located prosecutor Works as both a King County Deputy Prosecuting Attorney and an Assistant City Attorney Facilitates referrals of misdemeanor reports to felony investigation and filing when appropriate for Domestic Violence, Sexual Assault and Child Abuse cases Assists with witness tampering investigations Has had involvement in over 1700 cases in the three years of this program

11 Co-located prosecutor The CAO and KCPAO have had 312 defendants that they shared in common at some point Pending cases in both Superior and Municipal Court Probation in Municipal Court and a pending case in Superior Court Coordination helps to procure tougher sentences, including filing with aggravated factors when appropriate

12 Co-located victim advocate Community-based victim advocate from Salvation Army Position funded by Human Services Department Works part-time with CAO and SPD Referrals from our agencies Provides assistance with resources such as emergency housing, civil legal assistance and food Contacts proactively after the victim gives permission, Conducts in-person meetings when necessary at SA to facilitate access to resources

13 Elder abuse Cases are prosecuted by the STOP prosecutor Prosecutes cases where the victim is Over 60 and: Specific Elder Abuse characteristics exist Caregiver abuse Vulnerable victim Exploitation or patterned abuse Domestic violence

14 Incident report received and filed Received Filed

15 120% 100% Incident reports referred with and without arrest of suspect 80% 60% 40% 20% 54% 55% 59% 56% 51% 46% 45% 41% 44% 49% Incidents where the suspect is not arrested at the scene Incidents where the suspect is arrested at the scene 0%

16 Filed cases by custody status at the time of filing 120% 100% 80% 32% 37% 39% 35% 25% 60% 40% 68% 63% 61% 65% 75% Cases Filed with the Defendant Out of Custody Cases Filed with the Defendant In Custody 20% 0%

17 Trends associated with filings In years with higher rates of filing, there is a higher percentage of out-of-custody filings Both SPD reports and filings have shown some decrease in numbers, however the number of filed cases has decreased at a slightly higher rate than the number of incident reports This trend reflects the office-wide trend for criminal non-traffic cases, which decreased 11% from 2009 to 2010 (DV comprises about 18% of these cases)

18 Trends associated with filings There is a consistent pattern of approximately 45% arrest reports to 55% non-arrest reports over the 2006 to 2010 period had the highest proportion of arrest reports, with 49% arrest reports to 51% nonarrest reports

19 Cases dismissed or not filed because they were filed as felonies in Superior Court Dismissed Not filed

20 Charge types 2010 Assault 44% Violation of a DV Order 28% Property Damage 9% Harassment 7% Criminal Trespass 3% Interfering with Reporting of Domestic Violence 3% Other DV charges 3% Other Non-DV Charges 4%

21 Cases received and filed by gender, in percentage of total reports received and cases filed 100% 90% 80% 70% 60% 50% 40% 30% 20% 10% 0% 88% 86% 88% 89% 86% 81% 79% 80% 80% 77% 19% 21% 19% 20% 23% 12% 14% 13% 13% 14% % of Incident reports with Male Suspects % of Cases filed with Male Defendant % of Incident reports with Female Suspects % of Cases filed with Female Defendant

22 Race of suspects in all DV incident reports White 52% African-American 35% Asian/Pacific Islander 6% Native American 2% Hispanic/other 2% Unknown 3%

23 Age of suspects in incident reports

24 Case outcomes Statistics are kept for charges rather than cases, but somewhat similar to a hand count of a sample of cases (6% difference) Over the last five years, the number of dismissals for proof or witness-related issues remained between 28% and 32%

25 Charge outcomes 80% 70% 60% 50% 40% 30% 20% 10% 0% 68% 70% 72% 72% 71% 32% 30% 28% 28% 29% Unfavorable outcomes Favorable outcomes Unfavorable outcomes are generally dismissals for proof or witness reasons, and Not Guilty verdicts. Favorable outcomes are most other dispositions, such as Guilty Pleas, findings of guilt, Stipulated Orders of Continuance, and dismissals for a plea to another charge, felony filing, or probation revocation.

26 Charge outcomes by percentage 100% 90% 80% 70% 60% 50% 40% 30% 20% 10% 0% 47% 44% 45% 47% 43% 5% 8% 8% 8% 10% 16% 18% 19% 17% 18% 32% 30% 28% 28% 29% Guilty pleas and dismissals for plea Stipulated Order of Continuance Other outcomes (includes dismissals for felony filing) Dismissals for proof or victim problems

27 Outcomes for STOP cases filed or litigated during % 90% 80% 70% 60% 50% 40% 30% 20% 10% 0% At least one count was a plea of guilty = 53% Other outcomes or pending =14% Dismissed for felony filing = 11% Dismissals for proof reasons = 22% **91 cases hand counted, not counts charged

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