“Extremely Creepy, but Nothing he did was Illegal”: Charging Patterns During Prearrest Screening

Belén Lowrey-Kinberg, Rachel Bowman, Jon Gould

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

We examine an approach to case screening where prosecutors screen requests for charges before a felony arrest is made. In 2016, Franklin County prosecutors declined to authorize arrests in 17.5% of felony cases. Declination rates, however, varied widely between offense types. Prosecutors most commonly did not authorize an arrest due to insufficient evidence, no crime having occurred, or follow-up needed. Among other findings, the cases of Black defendants, as compared to White defendants, were more likely to be declined due to insufficient evidence and additional follow-up needed. We conclude that prearrest screening by prosecutors can filter out weak cases early, increasing efficiency for the prosecutor’s office, saving the government money, and minimizing the impact of a “bad” arrest on a defendant.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalCriminal Justice Policy Review
DOIs
StateAccepted/In press - 2022

Keywords

  • charging decision
  • felony screening
  • prosecution

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Law

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