Chapter 7: Identifying Degrees of Case Success

Measure 9, listed in Chapter 2, examines measures of case success. But what makes sexual assault cases successful, and who gets to define success?

Case resolutions are a critical component of case success. But success cannot and should not be defined by case resolution alone.

For example, in addition to case resolution, a prosecutor should consider whether they: used available evidentiary and legal strategies and tools; considered the victim’s input and weighed the impact of prosecutorial decision-making on victims; considered community safety and the requirements of justice; considered aggravating and mitigating circumstances, etc. Success can also be measured by whether the victim felt safe and satisfied with the criminal justice process.

These latter two prongs of success may occasionally differ or outright conflict with one another. For instance, a victim may be conflicted about the most traditionally “successful” outcome in the eyes of the prosecutor – a conviction – if they empathized with the suspect due to an existing prior relationship or was re-traumatized by the criminal justice process.

Thus, success can not be linked to a single outcome and should be measured on a case-by-case basis. But a determination must made on objective outcomes to accurately evaluate and, where necessary, refine practices. Success from the victim’s perspective will be discussed in Chapter 9.