No-Drop Prosecution of Domestic Violence: Just Good Policy, or Equal Protection Mandate?
Florida International University (FIU) - College of Law
June 1, 1999
Stanford Law Review, Vol. 52, No. 205, 1999
Domestic violence is a problem that must be dealt with for what it is: a criminal act. The only way to effectively diminish it is through the full force of the criminal justice system, which must treat domestic violence the same as it treats crime by strangers. The purpose of this note is to argue that aggressive prosecution of domestic violence-at least to the same extent that other violent crimes are prosecuted-is mandated by the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. Part I will examine the extent of the problems that pervade the criminal justice system, both historically and in contemporary dealings with domestic abuse. In Part II, I will explain the "no-drop policy," discuss its effectiveness and importance, address the arguments against it, and make some practical suggestions for its implementation. Part III will review the equal protection standards already extended to police protection in domestic violence cases in many jurisdictions. This protection, however, has yet to be extended to the prosecutorial stage, which limits its effectiveness. Consequently, in Part IV I will argue that the equal protection requirement that domestic violence victims receive the same police protection as victims of other crimes should be extended to the courtroom. Effective prosecution of these crimes, which is rare without a no-drop policy, is essential to providing the required equal police protection to domestic violence victims, and should therefore be mandated by the Constitution.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 31
Keywords: domestic violence, equal protection, prosecution
Date posted: June 21, 2012