The Effect of Legal and Extralegal Factors on Prosecutors' Charging Decisions in Sexual Assault Cases
Date of Award
Master of Arts (MA)
Criminology and Criminal Justice
Dr. Cassia Spohn
Most studies of criminal justice decision making have focused on the decision to arrest, the pretrial release decision, the decision to enter a guilty plea, and the sentencing decision. There has been very little research on the prosecutor's decision to file charges against persons suspected of crimes. The present study examined the effect of legal and extralegal variables on the prosecutor's decision to file charges in sexual assault cases. Using a sample of all complaints in sexual assaults received by the Detroit Police Departments in 1989, we tested the hypothesis that prosecutors' charging decisions are related to the strength of evidence in the case. We also tested the hypothesis that victim characteristics influence the decision to charge. Lastly, we tested the hypothesis that victim characteristics will only have an influence in cases with weak evidence.
Spears, Jeffrey W., "The Effect of Legal and Extralegal Factors on Prosecutors' Charging Decisions in Sexual Assault Cases" (1994). Student Work. 2272.
A Thesis is Presented to the Department of Criminal Justice and the Faculty of the Graduate College University of Nebraska In Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree Master of Arts University of Nebraska at Omaha. Copyright Jeffrey W. Spears July, 1994