Discretionary decisions to prosecute cases in which a battered woman kills her partner were investigated using several research strategies and targeting a range of case elements. Law students presented with case elements reported they would consider legal elements over nonlegal (or ‘supplemental’) elements when making a decision to prosecute. In contrast, law students assessed through an open-ended format as to important case factors for deciding to prosecute spontaneously generated high proportions of supplemental case elements compared with legal factors. Vignette comparisons of 42 case elements on participants’ likelihood to prosecute identified salient factors including legal and supplemental variables. Themes from the open-ended responses are discussed, as well as the extent to which supplemental factors were more likely to be considered in prosecution decisions when assessed through different methodological strategies.

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Diane R. Follingstad, M. Jill Rogers, Sarah N. Welling & F. Jill Priesmeyer, Decisions to Prosecute Battered Women's Homicide Cases: An Exploratory Study, 30 J. Fam. Violence 859 (2015).

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