Guidelines for the Prosecution of Domestic Violence
In the 1996 legislative session, Kansas lawmakers mandated that effective January 1, 1997, guidelines must be established and followed in all domestic violence motivated crimes:
"...all prosecuting attorneys, as defined in K.S.A. 22-2202,and amendments thereto, if such prosecuting attorney prosecutes crimes relating to domestic violence, shall adopt and put into effect written policies regarding the prosecution of crimes related to domestic violence. Such written policies shall include, but not be limited to, the effective prosecution of such crimes and the protection and safety of victims and such victim's children from domestic violence..." (K.S.A. 22-2309)
Violence or threats of violence are crimes and must be treated equally under the law regardless of the relationship of the parties to one another.
It has been the long-established policy of the District Attorney for the 18th Judicial District to aggressively prosecute violent crime, including those categorized as domestic violence. These written guidelines are consistent with existing policy, legislative intent and the continued goal of prosecution to provide justice through offender accountability, safety for the victim and such victim's children, as well as protection of the community from future violence, whatever its source.
The District Attorney has adopted a broad definition of domestic and family violence to include child physical and sexual abuse, elder abuse and child endangerment in addition to the statutory definition of "domestic battery" as found in Kansas Statutes Annotated 21-3412a. These definitions are consistent with Kansas law, statutory construction and are set forth in the District Attorney Guidelines for the Presentation and Charging of Domestic Violence Cases.
The Prosecutor's Role in the Community
The District Attorney participates in community based groups and organizations dedicated to understanding domestic violence issues. Only through cohesive efforts can domestic violence be reduced, recidivism of offenders be diminished and the goals of effective prosecution realized.
The Prosecution's Role in the Justice System
The District Attorney reviews cases presented for prosecution and, where appropriate, charges cases that meet the requirements set forth in the District Attorney Guidelines for the Presentation and Charging of Domestic Violence Cases.
The District Attorney continues to work as an integral part of a coordinated law enforcement effort to reduce domestic violence incidents. The District Attorney consults and collaborates with law enforcement in meeting criminal justice goals and objectives to assure that policies are complimentary and not oppositional. The District Attorney works to educate and inform law enforcement officers by participating in their educational process.
The District Attorney works as well to educate and inform the community, legislators and courts in the dynamics of interfamilial relationships that frequently involve escalating levels of violence. The District Attorney makes recommendations for changes that will achieve the goals of reducing incidents of violent crime.
The District Attorney provides distinct services in domestic violence cases, that include prompt involvement of victims with the court system, referral of victims to appropriate outside resources that foster support, encouragement and contact with victim advocates. Recognizing that early introduction of a strong advocate holds the best hope of getting the victim to follow through with the prosecution, it is our goal to educate victims and refer them to appropriate providers to assist them in their understanding of how to minimize chances of future victimization.
The District Attorney believes domestic violence threatens the safety and well being of children through direct abuse or indirectly by endangering their primary caretakers. The cycle of violence continues to be perpetuated generationally. Immediate intervention by law enforcement or social service agencies on behalf of the children is mandated.
The District Attorney has established a special unit of attorneys to develop, implement and prosecute domestic violence cases. The decision whether to prosecute rests solely within the discretion of the District Attorney, however, guidelines for the review of cases has been set forth consistent with prosecutorial standards.
When charges are filed, each participant in the process has certain defined obligations. While the setting of bonds, conditions thereof and no contact orders is within the sole province of the court, the prosecutor will endeavor to make known to the court those facts and circumstances upon which the State has relied in the filing of criminal charges to assist the court in making this decision. The prosecutor shall also review the case, giving special consideration to the impact of domestic violence not only on the victim of the crime as alleged, but on those minor children whose lives have been impacted.
One stated goal in resolving violent crime requires offender accountability. In domestic violence cases, the relationship of the parties makes cases management difficult. It is not uncommon during the court process for a prosecutor to encounter a witness (victim) who may be hostile or uncooperative. Many times because of the relationship of the parties, a victim will engage in conduct that may cause the prosecution to be hampered. Efforts will be made by the prosecution to see that each and every case is handled within the legal system and in a manner consistent with the interest of justice.
Contact the office of the District Attorney Domestic Violence Unit.