Date of Award




Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


School of Criminal Justice

Content Description

1 online resource (ii, x, 201 pages) : illustrations.

Dissertation/Thesis Chair

Alissa Worden

Committee Members

Jamie Fader, James Acker, Cynthia Najdowski


Rape, Trials (Rape), Prosecution, Criminal justice, Administration of, Public prosecutors

Subject Categories



This dissertation examines prosecutorial discretion and decision making in the processing of sexual assault cases. The literature has long focused on the idea that prosecutors make decisions with the goal of avoiding uncertainty, the uncertainty being a potential acquittal. Researchers suggest this goal is the result of prosecutors’ beliefs that professional advancement is dependent upon one’s conviction record. Much of the research in this area has relied upon quantitative methods and analyses. The results of the analyses lead researchers to infer that prosecutors do indeed make charging decisions with an eye toward avoiding uncertainty. Specifically related to sexual assault cases, uncertainty comes from prosecutors’ applying stereotypes and rape myths as they make decisions. Stereotypes and rape myths stem from the prosecutors’ knowledge and beliefs about how the victims’ behavior and character will affect the likelihood the case will result in a conviction.

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