Criminal Justice Outcomes in Intimate and Non-intimate Partner Homicide Cases

4. Results (cont'd)

4.3 What are the effects of time on the dispositions of homicide cases?

As already noted, a number of changes have occurred in recent decades with respect to the treatment of violence within the criminal justice system and many of these changes have targeted intimate violence. Before examining what changes have occurred over time in the role of intimacy in criminal law, this section examines the independent effects of time on criminal justice outcomes. Table 4.8 demonstrates that there have been significant changes over time in the processing of homicide cases generally at various stages. The most significant time period appears to be the second period of the study – from 1984 to 1996 – the years following the policy changes with respect to pro-charging and pro-prosecution policies. More specifically, using the first period of the study – 1974 to 1983 – as the reference category, Model 2 shows that homicide cases processed between 1984 and 1996 were significantly less likely to be resolved at trial. In other words, guilty pleas were more likely during this period than in the earlier period. In addition, Model 3 showed that, among those cases resolved at trial, accused persons whose cases were processed in the second period were more likely to be found guilty at trial than accused persons in the first time period. Finally, with respect to conviction, Model 5 showed that accused persons whose cases were dealt with during the period 1984 and 1996 were more likely to be convicted overall and, based on Model 6, they were more likely to be convicted of murder (rather than manslaughter) than accused persons whose cases were heard during the early period of the study. The more recent time period – 1997-2002 – also differed significantly from the earlier time period in the processing of homicide cases. First, cases processed during the more recent period were more likely to result in a murder conviction compared to cases processed during the early period of the study. Second, cases in the more recent period were likely to result in slightly longer sentences for the accused than those in the early period of the study.

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