Identifying the Predominant Aggressor and Evaluating Lethality

Every year, 3-4 million women in the U.S. are abused and 1,500-1,600 are killed by their abusers. One challenge, for first responders to a domestic disturbance where both parties are injured, is identifying the predominant aggressor. Police and prosecutors must also be able to determine the level of danger facing a victim. Several factors are associated with an increased risk of homicide in domestic violence relationships. While we cannot predict what will happen in a particular case, danger assessments can help determine the risk that a victim faces, enabling us to better prioritize our efforts and support the victim.

This presentation emphasizes the importance of contextual analysis in evaluating criminal responsibility at the arrest, charging, pre-trial, and sentencing phases. Such analysis will help to ensure that the dynamics of domestic violence are properly factored into decisions about arrest, charging, plea negotiations, and sentencing, and will enhance the quality of justice for those who have been victims of abuse. The presentation also discusses the importance of danger assessments and best practices in lethality evaluation.

At the conclusion of this presentation participants will be better able to:
– Evaluate the context within which an act of violence occurs.
– Overcome batterer manipulation of the justice system.
– Identify risk and lethality factors.