No Right to Choose: Mandated Participation in Domestic Violence Prosecutions

63 Pages Posted: 3 Oct 2008

Date Written: June 1, 1996


Throughout the country, prosecutors have begun to mandate victim participation in domestic violence cases. In this Article, Professor Hanna examines the tensions that arise when the state uses its powers to compel women to assist in the prosecution of their batterers. Although feminist theory has been responsible for increased attention to domestic violence, it does not adequately address the tensions between state accountability and victim autonomy. Professor Hanna illustrates these tensions with dilemmas that she confronted while prosecuting domestic violence cases. Using a pragmatist approach to explore these issues more deeply, Professor Hanna argues that prosecutors can decrease the costs associated with mandated participation by reducing their reliance on victim testimony. She also outlines practical steps that prosecutors can take to achieve this goal. Professor Hanna concludes that prosecutors must take the choice of prosecution away from the victim if they are serious about sending a clear message that domestic violence is criminally unacceptable.

Keywords: domestic violence, feminist theory, criminal law, prosecution, gender

Suggested Citation

Hanna, Cheryl, No Right to Choose: Mandated Participation in Domestic Violence Prosecutions (June 1, 1996). Harvard Law Review, Vol. 109, No. 8, p. 1849, 1996, Available at SSRN:

Cheryl Hanna (Contact Author)

Vermont Law School ( email )

68 North Windsor Street
P.O. Box 60
South Royalton, VT 05068
United States
802-831-1282 (Phone)

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