A study conducted by the U.S. Department of Justice Bureau of Justice Statistics examined how the justice system handled domestic violence. The findings show that state felony defendants charged with domestic violence were prosecuted, convicted, and incarcerated at rates equal to or higher than felony defendants charged with non-domestic violence. The study compared DV and non-DV cases filed in state courts of 15 large urban counties, including Franklin County, Ohio, during May 2002. The cases were compared on 11 prosecution, conviction, and sentencing outcome measures.
Defendants charged with sexual assault had higher rates of prosecution, conviction, and felony assault conviction than non-DV defendants. Additionally, they had longer average incarceration sentences.
Defendants charged with aggravated assault had higher rates of conviction, violent felony conviction, aggravated assault conviction, and higher misdemeanor conviction than non-DV defendants.
Thus, it matters how crimes of violence are categorized when prosecution begins.