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Domestic Violence - Who Are The Abusers? Who Are The Victims?, The Causes Of Domestic Violence, Federal Approaches To Domestic Violence

criminal serious justice system

All states made "wife beating" illegal by 1920. However, only since the 1970s has the criminal justice system begun to treat domestic violence as a serious crime, not as a private family matter. Domestic violence is any physical, sexual, or psychological abuse that people use against a former or current intimate partner. It refers to a number of criminal behaviors: assault and battery; sexual assault; stalking; harassment; violation of a civil restraining order; homicide; and other offenses that occur in the course of a domestic violence incident, such as arson, robbery, malicious destruction of property, and endangering a minor. No person can validly consent to a breach of the peace or a battery that may result in serious injury or death. Furthermore, most states have abolished the marital rape exemption in toto; this exemption precluded husbands from being prosecuted for raping their wives. Thus, in general, there is no legal distinction between crimes committed against intimate partners and those committed against strangers.

Police, prosecutors, and judges are routinely trained in domestic violence, and aggressive interventions are continually implemented. Individuals across the political spectrum have generally supported these changes, although there is ongoing debate as to which interventions work best. Furthermore, some fear that the pendulum has swung too far, and that those who are accused of domestic violence, particularly men, are presumed guilty rather than innocent. Advocates are concerned that the needs of victims are being sacrificed for higher conviction rates. Indeed, the ongoing challenge for the criminal justice system is to protect the rights of both defendants and victims while at the same time treating domestic violence as a serious social problem. Even though the criminal justice system has come a long way since 1920, it still has a long way to go.

CHERYL HANNA

Double Jeopardy - Mistrials, Multiple Punishment, Second Prosecution After Conviction, Second Prosecution After Acquittal, Appeals, Lower Courts [next] [back] Dispute Resolution Programs - History, Variety In Program Structures And Protocols, Critique, Bibliography

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