Situational, Community, and State Policy-Level Factors Associated with Arrest in Incidents of Intimate Partner Violence

Published date01 September 2023
AuthorMarisa L. Beeble,Adrienne E. Adams,KyungSook Lee
Date01 September 2023
Subject MatterArticles
Situational, Community, and
State Policy-Level Factors
Associated with Arrest in
Incidents of Intimate
Partner Violence
Marisa L. Beeble
, Adrienne E. Adams
and KyungSook Lee
This study explored situational-, community-, and state policy-level factors associated with arrest in
incidents involving violence among heterosexual couples. We employed 3-level regression models
with Bayesian estimation to determine factors that inuence female-only arrest, male-only arrest,
and dual arrest, compared to incidents resulting in no arrest. At the situational level, differences
by offense type were seen. The odds of a males arrest were signicantly higher across all offense
types, except for sexual assault, larceny, and fraud. The odds of a female partners arrest were sig-
nicantly higher across all offenses except larceny, robbery, and fraud. The odds of dual arrest were
signicantly higher in incidents involving simple assault, aggravated assault, intimidation, but not sex-
ual assault, kidnapping, property crime, larceny, and robbery. The odds of arrest were higher across
the board among incidents involving a victim injury, a weapon, mutual violence, and perpetrator sub-
stance use. At the community level, few factors were related to arrest. At the state policy level,
mandatory arrest statutes increased the odds of a single arrest in comparison to jurisdictions
with ofcer discretion, regardless of perpetrator sex, but had no impact on dual arrest. Primary
aggressor policies were unrelated to arrest outcomes. Implications for research and practice are
domestic violence, intimate partner violence, arrest decisions
Department of Interdisciplinary Studies, Russell Sage College, Albany, NY, USA
Department of Psychology, Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI, USA
Center for Alaska Native Health Research, University of Alaska Fairbanks, Fairbanks, AK, USA
Corresponding Author:
Marisa L. Beeble, Russell Sage College, 140 New Scotland Avenue, Albany, NY 12208, USA.
Criminal Justice Review
2023, Vol. 48(3) 377-402
© 2022 Georgia State University
Article reuse guidelines:
DOI: 10.1177/07340168221115407
Intimate partner violence (IPV) perpetrated by men against women is a widespread social problem
and signicant public health concern. Approximately 43.6 million women in the U.S. have experi-
enced physical assault, sexual violence, and/or stalking by intimate partners at some point during
their lifetime, and 43.5 million have experienced psychological aggression (Smith et al., 2018).
IPV has devastating and long-lasting physical, psychological, economic, and legal consequences
for womens lives (DInverno et al., 2019). Further, over half of female homicide victims are
killed by a current or former male partner (CDC, 2021a).
Historically domestic violence was perceived to be a family matter by much of society, leaving
victims without requisite supports and legal avenues to respond to the violence they endured
(Durfee, 2021; Johnson, 2002). With and following the womens liberation movement came a call
for action from feminists, advocates, and scholars alike to develop laws and policies that responded
to violence among intimate partners much in the same way as society would respond to violence per-
petrated by strangers, emphasizing perpetrator accountability (Goodmark, 2009). Widespread man-
datory and pro-arrest statutes followed this call for action over several decades. Unlike discretionary
arrest policies in which ofcers can use their own judgement about whether arrest is the best course of
action, mandatory arrest policies require that an arrest be made in situations in which the ofcer has
probable cause to believe domestic violence has occurred (Durfee, 2021). Pro-arrest, also known as
preferred arrest, falls in the middle of these two extremes and encourages an ofcer to make an arrest.
While widespread efforts to criminalize domestic violence were initially welcomed and viewed as a
success, they were not without their limitations and unintended consequences for victims
(Chesney-Lind, 2002; Goodmark, 2009; Hovmand et al., 2009).
Since the widespread implementation of mandatory and pro-arrest statutes, arrests have increased
overall (Durfee & Fetzer, 2016; Hirschel et al., 2007) and arrest rates of women have grown dispro-
portionately to that of mens (DeLeon-Granados et al., 2006; Durfee, 2012; Hamilton & Worthen,
2011). Experts agree that this is likely due to the arrest policies rather than an increase in female-
perpetrated violence within intimate relationships (Chesney-Lind, 2002; DeLeon-Granados et al.,
2006). Even in incidents characterized as having situational ambiguity,whereby mutual violence
occurred among the intimate partners, Durfee (2012) found that after accounting for individual and
incident characteristics in mandatory arrest jurisdictions, the odds the female partner was arrested
were higher than the odds that the male partner was arrested. In situations of mutual violence, ofcers
may be reluctant to determine or have difculty deciphering which partner was the primary aggres-
sor, leading to higher incidents of dual arrest (Finn & Bettis, 2006). Further, a lack of understanding
of the context in which the violence occurred on the part of police may result in female victims being
arrested for using defensive violence, as a result of the perpetratorsability to manipulate the ofcer
and depict the victim as the primary aggressor (Dichter, 2013), or as a result of the perpetrator retal-
iating against the victim (Rajah et al., 2006). In a qualitative study investigating the impact of man-
datory arrest policies on survivors of IPV, women often report being unsuccessful in their attempts to
portray themselves as victims to law enforcement (Leisenring, 2011). Regardless of the cause of the
arrest, women report devastating consequences ranging from nancial hardships; difculty obtain-
ing/maintaining employment; child protective services involvement and in some cases, loss of
custody (Dichter, 2013); and a reluctance to contact police for help in the future (Crager et al., 2003).
In addition, mandatory arrest policies and the like are disempowering and strip survivors of their
autonomy to choose whether or not pursue legal action against their partner and to determine what
may be in their best interest (Goodmark, 2009). The initial intent of these policies, that is, to prioritize
victim safety and facilitate perpetrator accountability, overlooks the reality of IPV, views all survi-
vorscircumstances as comparable, and assumes that these policies protect victims and their choices
(Goodmark, 2009). However, in some circumstances, perpetrator arrest seems to have little effect on
378 Criminal Justice Review 48(3)

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