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

4. Results (cont'd)

4.6 Beyond intimacy: What else matters in the disposition of homicide cases?

A number of other factors were found to be relevant in the disposition of homicide cases in Toronto based on results shown in Table 4.8. With respect to legal factors, as one would expect, this group of variables was significantly associated with a number of criminal court outcomes. For example, the prior criminal record of the accused was significantly associated with the majority of decision outcomes. In particular, accused persons who had a prior record - violent or non-violent - were less likely to have their cases resolved at trial, but were significantly more likely to be found guilty at trial if it proceeded to that stage. Similarly, a prior criminal record also increased the likelihood that an accused person would be convicted overall and increased the likelihood of a murder conviction. If an accused had a prior record for violent crimes only, they were more likely to be charged with first-degree murder more likely to receive a federal sentence and, finally, were sentenced to a longer period of imprisonment than those with no prior record or a record for non-violent offences.

As expected, earlier decisions were also found to affect later outcomes, highlighting the importance of controlling for these decisions when examining later stages of the criminal justice process. For example, an accused charged with a more serious offence was more likely to be found guilty at trial, more likely to be convicted overall and more likely to be convicted of murder. Those who were convicted of more serious offences were also more likely to receive a federal sentence and, as a result, a longer term of imprisonment before parole eligibility than those who were convicted of less serious charges (i.e. manslaughter). There were also a number of interesting associations among extra-legal factors and outcomes at various stages. Table 4.13 summarizes the significant positive and negative associations among all the variables included in the analysis and the criminal justice outcomes.[37]

Table 4.13: Summary of Significant Associations for Multivariate Analyses Examining the Victim-Accused Relationship, Time Period, Gender and Control Variables by Eight Criminal Justice Outcomes, Total Sample, Toronto, Ontario, 1974-2002


[37] A positive sign means that the presence of a particular characteristic (e.g. intimate partner relationship) increased the likelihood of a particular outcome (e.g. found guilty at trial; see Model 3). A negative sign indicates that a particular characteristic (e.g. intimate partner relationship) decreased the likelihood of a particular outcome (e.g. first-degree murder charge; see Model 1). Where 'n/a' is noted, this means that the variable was not included in the model. Full results are in Appendix D.

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