Questions: Adult Cases

PreTrial Management

Always/ Yes Typically Generally Not Never/ No
  1. Are the following factors considered when determining whether to detain or release defendants in sex offense cases:
    • Nature and severity of the allegations?
    • History of violence or aggression?
    • Flight risk?
    • Threat of harm to self or others?
    • Case–specific victim safety concerns (e.g., stalking, domestic violence, or child victims within the home)?
    • Employment?
    • Presence of appropriate community supports?
    • Potential hardship (e.g., financial) on defendants’ family?
  2. Do bail schedules (i.e., bail amounts) appropriately reflect the degree of risk that has been determined by the officer of the court?
  3. If bail is granted, are release conditions reflective of the degree of risk that has been determined by the court?
  4. When defendants remain in the community pre–trial, are special conditions (e.g., no contact orders) established to ensure victim safety, while maintaining due process?

Prosecutorial Practices

Always/ Yes Typically Generally Not Never/ No
  1. Do prosecutors receive specialized training about the following:
    • Sexual victimization, including victim impact?
    • The heterogeneity of sex offenders?
    • Effective sex offender management strategies?
    • Child development, including memory and recall?
    • Needs and rights of victims?
    • Special evidentiary considerations unique to sex offense cases?
    • Effective collaboration and criminal information–sharing?
  2. Do prosecutors consult with other key stakeholders (e.g., law enforcement, child welfare professionals, victim advocates) when making charging decisions?
  3. Is vertical prosecution used for sex offense cases?
  4. Do prosecutors ensure that the nature and seriousness of the offense is reflected fully in the charges at the time of filing?

Victim–Centeredness

Always/ Yes Typically Generally Not Never/ No
  1. Are victim advocates available to support, educate, and inform victims during the course of the prosecution and sentencing phases?
  2. Do prosecutors’ offices have designated victim services personnel?
  3. Do prosecutors or their representatives meet with victims early in the court process to explain the various steps in the court process, assess the ability and willingness of victims to testify, prepare victims for the dynamics of the proceedings, and identify any specific considerations or accommodations that may be warranted?
  4. Do policies or procedures include provisions to ensure that interested victims and their families remain fully informed during the court proceedings?
  5. In practice, are steps taken to ensure that interested victims and their families remain fully informed during the court proceedings?
  6. Do policies or procedures include provisions for victims and their families to have a voice during the court proceedings (e.g., through victim impact statements, testimony)?
  7. In practice, do interested victims and their families have a voice during the court proceedings (e.g., through victim impact statements, testimony)?
  8. Do court officials ensure that victim–centeredness is maintained throughout the court process in the following ways:
    • Ensuring compliance with victims’ rights legislation?
    • Limiting pre–trial conferences, depositions, and evidentiary hearings that may intimidate victims?
    • Being sensitive to the timing of trials?
    • Allowing flexibility in court scheduling for victims?
    • Minimizing court appearances for victims?
    • Enforcing rape shield laws?
    • Protecting privileged communications from victims’ counseling sessions?
    • Allowing support persons to be present for victims during the proceedings?
    • Ensuring safe and separate waiting rooms or locations are available for victims and their families during the court proceedings?
    • Demanding appropriate conduct by attorneys?
  9. Do prosecutors ensure that victims and their families are consulted prior to finalizing plea agreements?
  10. Are victim compensation and restitution issues addressed during the case resolution process?

Plea Negotiations

Always/ Yes Typically Generally Not Never/ No
  1. Do prosecutors ensure that the sexual nature of these cases remains visible (i.e., ensure that charges are not reduced to non–sex offenses) dur
    ing plea negotiations?
  2. Are the results of specialized assessments used to inform plea negotiations?
  3. If specialized assessments are used to inform plea negotiations, are they conducted only under prescribed circumstances (e.g., agreement by all parties, prosecutorial immunity for additional disclosures)?
  4. During plea negotiations, do prosecutors avoid the use of nolo contendere/no contest and Alford pleas?
  5. When plea agreements have been offered, do judges require that a factual basis of the plea is formally provided by the defendant during the court proceedings?
  6. During the plea negotiation process, are the following addressed:
    • Consultation with victims and their families?
    • Review of victim impact statements?
    • Restitution considerations?
    • Specialized treatment and supervision conditions?
    • Applicability of sex offender registration requirements?

Data Collection

Always/ Yes Typically Generally Not Never/ No
  1. Do prosecutors’ offices maintain statistics on sex offense cases, includ
    ing the following:
    • Arrests (e.g., by age, gender, offense category)?
    • Case–specific data about referrals for prosecution (e.g., age and gender of victims, victim–offender relationship)?
    • Conviction rates (e.g., by offense category)?
    • Cases disposed via trial?
    • Cases disposed via plea bargains?

Questions: Juvenile Cases

Pre–Adjudication Management

Always/ Yes Typically Generally Not Never/ No
  1. Are the following factors considered during initial appearances/detention hearings for youth who are alleged to have committed sex offenses:
    • Nature and severity of the allegations?
    • Prior delinquency?
    • History of violence or aggression?
    • Risk to abscond/runaway history?
    • Threat of harm to self or others?
    • Development, maturity?
    • Criminal sophistication?
    • Ability and willingness of parents or guardians to provide sufficient structure and supervision?
    • Parental/family risk factors (e.g., substance abuse, current legal involvement)?
    • Presence of appropriate community supports?
    • Adequate safeguards to promote victim safety when victims are in the home?
    • Availability of appropriate alternative placements (e.g., extended family, foster care)?
    • Adjustment in school and home, if youth has remained in the community prior to the filing of the petition and the subsequent detention hearing?
  2. When juvenile defendants remain in the community pre–adjudication, are special conditions (e.g., no contact orders, safety planning in schools) established?
  3. Do prosecutors/juvenile court officers ensure that the sexual nature of these cases remains visible (i.e., ensure that charges are not reduced to non–sex offenses) during plea negotiations?
  4. Are the results of specialized forensic assessments (e.g., psychosexual, competency) used to inform plea negotiations?

Plea Negotiations

Always/ Yes Typically Generally Not Never/ No
  1. If psychosexual evaluations are used to inform plea negotiations, are they conducted only under prescribed circumstances (e.g., agreement by all parties, informed consent of parent/guardian, immunity for additional disclosures)?
  2. During the plea negotiation process, are the following addressed:
    • Consultation with victims and their families?
    • Review of victim impact statements?
    • Restitution considerations?
    • Need for family interventions?
    • Amenability to treatment and supervision?
    • Specialized conditions of community supervision?
    • Applicability of juvenile sex offender registration requirements?
  3. Do judges require that a factual basis of the plea (i.e., official acknowledgement of the details of the allegations are true, description of the acts) is formally provided by the juvenile during the court proceedings?

Victim–Centeredness

Always/ Yes Typically Generally Not Never/ No
  1. Are victim advocates available to support, educate, and inform victims during the course of the adjudication and disposition phases?
  2. Do juvenile/family courts have designated victim services personnel?
  3. Do prosecutors/juvenile court officers meet with victims early in the court process to explain the various steps in the court process, assess the ability and willingness of victims to testify, prepare victims for the dynamics of the proceedings, and identify any specific considerations or accommodations that may be warranted?
  4. Do policies or procedures include provisions to ensure that interested victims and their families remain fully informed during the juvenile court proceedings?
  5. In practice, are steps taken to ensure that interested victims and their families remain fully informed during the juvenile court proceedings?
  6. Do policies or procedures include provisions for victims and their families to have a voice during the juvenile court proceedings (e.g., through victim impact statements, testimony)?
  7. In practice, do interested victims and their families have a voice during the juvenile court proceedings (e.g., through victim impact statements, testimony)?
  8. Do juvenile court officials ensure that victim–centeredness is maintained throughout the court process in the following ways:
    • Ensuring compliance with victims’ rights legislation?
    • Limiting pre–trial conferences, depositions, and evidentiary hearings that may intimidate victims?
    • Being sensitive to the timing of trials?
    • Allowing flexibility in court scheduling for victims?
    • Minimizing court appearances for victims?
    • Enforcing rape shield laws?
    • Protecting privileged communications from victims’ counseling sessions?
    • Allowing support persons to be present for victims during the proceedings?
    • Ensuring that safe and separate waiting rooms or locations are available for victims and their families during the juvenile court proceedings?
    • Demanding appropriate conduct by attorneys?
  9. Do prosecutors ensure that victims and their families are consulted prior to finalizing plea agreements?
  10. Are victim compensation and restitution issues addressed during the case resolution process?

Prosecution/Adjudication Practices

Always/ Yes Typically Generally Not Never/ No
  1. Do prosecutors/juvenile court officers responsible for delinquency petitions receive specialized training about the following:
    • Sexual victimization, including victim impact?
    • The heterogeneity of juvenile sex offenders?
    • Differences between adult and juvenile sex offenders?
    • Effective juvenile sex offender management strategies?
    • Adolescent development?
    • Juvenile competency issues?
    • Needs and rights of victims?
    • Effective collaboration and critical information–sharing?
  2. Do prosecutors/juvenile court officers take into account juvenile competency issues during the adjudication phase?
  3. Do prosecutors/juvenile court officers consult with other key stakeholders (e.g., law enforcement, child welfare professionals, mental health professionals, victim advocates) when filing delinquency petitions or making charging decisions?
  4. Do prosecutors/juvenile court officers ensure that the nature and seriousness of the offense is reflected fully in the charges at the time of filing?

Data Collection

Always/ Yes Typically Generally Not Never/ No
  1. Do juvenile courts maintain statistics on sex offense cases, including the following:
    • Case–specific data about referrals (e.g., age and gender of victims, victim–offender relationship)?
    • Overall adjudication/conviction rates?
    • Cases disposed via trial?
    • Cases disposed via plea bargains?
    • Juvenile court diversion/informal adjustments?
    • Transfers/waivers to the adult courts?