Specialized units and vertical prosecution approaches

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


Legal scholars and social scientists maintain that there are several advantages to processing certain types of cases-for example, sexual assault, domestic violence, and crimes involving career criminals or gang members-using vertical prosecution and a specialized prosecution unit. This chapter discusses the logic of vertical prosecution and assignment of cases to specialized units. The chapter also summarizes the findings of research on the effectiveness of specialized units for handling sexual assault cases, domestic violence cases, and gang-related homicide, noting that the research conducted to date reveals that there are very few differences in the outcomes of cases prosecuted by attorneys assigned to specialized units and those prosecuted by attorneys not assigned to specialized units. The chapter concludes with a discussion of potential explanations for this lack of impact and with a call for additional research on these interrelated approaches to prosecution.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationThe Oxford Handbook of Prosecutors and Prosecution
PublisherOxford University Press
Number of pages13
ISBN (Electronic)9780190905422
StatePublished - Jan 1 2021


  • Domestic violence prosecution
  • Organizational shape
  • Prosecuting gang crime
  • Sexual assault prosecution
  • Specialized prosecution unit
  • Vertical prosecution
  • Witness management

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Sciences(all)


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