Gender and Crime

Ambiguity and Patterns of Arrest for Intimate Partner Violence

Alesha Durfee
Associate Professor of Women and Gender Studies, Arizona State University

Key Findings

  • Officers in states with mandatory arrest policies are 2.33 times more likely to make a female only arrest, 1.38 times more likely to make a dual arrest, and 1.59 times more likely to make a male-only arrest in cases of IPV that are situationally ambiguous.
  • Although more men are being arrested as a result of these policies, increases in the percentage of women arrested for IPV has far outpaced those for men.
  • Mandatory and proarrest policies have direct impacts on arrest decisions in situationally ambiguous cases of IPV. These impacts are gendered and have differential impacts for men and women.


In the article, “Situational Ambiguity and Gendered Patterns of Arrest for Intimate Partner Violence,” Durfee examines the impacts that domestic violence mandatory arrest policies have on arrest outcomes in “situationally ambiguous” cases: cases where both the female and male partners have been identified by police as both a victim and an offender. Results indicate that although officers arrest male partners more frequently than female partners, after controlling for incident and individual factors, mandatory arrest policies disproportionately affect women.

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