, Volume 8, Issue 3, pp 317-333

Charge reduction: An analysis of prosecutorial discretion in burglary and robbery cases

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Although a substantial number of researchers have studied charge reductions taking place within the context of guilty plea negotiations, few have focused on estimating the determinants of charge reductions taking place at the initial screening decision. The prosecutor's decision to reduce original felony charges to a misdemeanor has serious social, legal, and economic consequences for the suspect. This paper presents a model of the variables affecting the likelihood of such a reduction in burglary and robbery offenses. Drawing from Littrell's “principled charging” perspective and earlier research on labeling, the analysis involves estimating logistic regression equations specifying both main and interaction effects of the suspect's gender and race and variables related to suspect character, case seriousness, and legal seriousness. Partial support is found for Littrell's perspective.