U.S. Department of Justice


Date of this Version



U.S. Department of Justice Office of Justice Programs Bureau of Justice Statistics (October 2009)


In the state courts of 16 large urban counties, 3,750 cases of intimate partner violence (IPV) were filed in May 2002. These cases represent 83% of the 4,562 domestic violence cases filed in the 16 counties. A case was defined as intimate partner violence if it involved an allegation of intentional physical violence committed, attempted, or threatened between spouses, ex-spouses, common-law spouses, boyfriends or girlfriends, present or past. For more information on the definitions of domestic violence and intimate partner violence used in this report, see the Methodology.

More than half of IPV defendants were convicted, and of those convicted, more than 80% were sentenced to incarceration in either prison or jail. This report examines the case characteristics that are associated with an increased likelihood of conviction.

This report is based on data collected in the study Processing of Domestic Violence Cases in State Courts, conducted by the Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS). Findings are based on information documented in prosecutor files and court records of 3,750 intimate partner violence cases. Cases were tracked for one year following the defendant’s first court appearance in May 2002.

Most cases of intimate partner violence involved a female victim and a male defendant

Victims in intimate partner violence cases were generally female (86%), while defendants were generally male (86%) (table 1). The majority of IPV cases (84%) involved a male defendant and a female victim. Twelve percent of cases involved a female defendant and a male victim (not shown in table). In 4% of IPV cases, the defendant and victim were of the same gender.