the criminology and criminal justice network
Prior research clearly indicates that the parties involved in intimate partner disputes are often under the influence of alcohol. How do police officers responding to domestic violence incidents factor intoxication into the decision of what action they should take? Do they regard intoxication on the part of the offender as an excuse for his behavior and fail to arrest an intoxicated defendant when they would have arrested a sober one? What affect does a victim’s intoxication have on their decision of what action to take? This study addresses those questions.
Examining 3,078 heterosexual intimate partner intimidation and assault cases reported to the police in calendar year 2000 in 25 jurisdictions in Connecticut, Idaho, Tennessee, and Virginia, we found that, controlling for legal factors such as the existence of mandatory and primary aggressor laws, and the use of a deadly weapon and the infliction of injury, offender drinking was unrelated to the likelihood of arrest, but victim drinking resulted in the police being over two times less likely to arrest the offender. Controlling for the same variables, we found that the police were two times more likely to arrest both parties when both had been drinking and less than half as likely to arrest both parties when only the offender had been drinking. Thus, instead of being taken as an excuse for behavior, intoxication, especially on the part of the victim , appears to be viewed as an indication for culpability for what transpired. It is unclear, however, to what extent the resulting police action is affected by such attribution of culpability as opposed to an intoxicated party interacting with the responding officers in an uncooperative or possibly hostile manner."
- David Hirschel, regarding, "Unraveling the Relative Contributions of His, Her, and Their Drink... co-authored with Ira Hutchison and published in the October 2011 issue of Journal of Interpersonal Violence.