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Frequently Asked Questions


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WHAT IS FATALITY REVIEW?

Fatality review is a nationally recognized method for understanding how and why people die—the goal of which is to reduce or prevent future deaths. Domestic violence fatality review teams (DVFRTs) are comprised of stakeholders from multiple agencies and organizations that respond to domestic violence in their communities.  The teams work to create a timeline of events to illustrate what led up to the fatality(ies) and then determine how or if the fatality could have been prevented.  This method guides the team in generating new or changing current policies and procedures to prevent future deaths.  The process is confidential, retrospective, and protected by Virginia law.  Case review does not seek to place blame or reinvestigate deaths, but to enhance community collaboration and safety.

WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OF FATALITY REVIEW?

  • Uses a public health framework to prevent future domestic violence fatalities
  • Provides enhanced understanding of fatal domestic violence and lethality risk factors
  • Motivates community awareness and action through data-driven team findings and recommendations
  • Promotes positive collaboration and cooperation among local domestic violence service providers
  • Strengthens community systems promoting victim safety and perpetrator accountability
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HOW IS FATALITY REVIEW AUTHORIZED?

DVFRTs are authorized by the Code of Virginia §32.1-283.3 and endorsed by their local governments.


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HOW IS A FATALITY REVIEW TEAM FORMED?

A team is a voluntary, community-based group of domestic violence stakeholders. Generally, a team organizer invites the participation of all agencies involved in the local domestic violence response. A detailed description for establishing and running a team is included in the Family and Intimate Partner Violence Fatality Review: Team Protocol and Resource Manual (3rd Edition, December 2009) available on this website.


WHO ARE TEAM MEMBERS?

A domestic violence fatality review team is a multidisciplinary group of professionals that are involved in their community’s systematic response to domestic violence. Virginia law recommends but does not mandate team membership. Recommended representation includes:

  • Commonwealth’s Attorneys
  • Law Enforcement Officers
  • Domestic Violence Program Providers
  • Judges
  • Probation and Parole Officers
  • Magistrates
  • Victim/Witness Advocates
  • Legal Advocates
  • Batterer Intervention Providers
  • School Officials
  • Healthcare Providers
  • Medical Examiners
  • Court Personnel
  • Social Service Program Providers

Virginia State SealWHAT ABOUT CONFIDENTIALITY?

Confidentiality is a cornerstone of fatality review. The Code of Virginia Section 32.1-283.3 supports and protects confidential team case review. Statutory highlights include:

  • All team members and agencies sign confidentiality agreements which protect the information, records, discussions, and opinions shared during case review.
  • Only closed cases (those with no further criminal investigations or prosecutions) may be reviewed.
  • All case review information is excluded from the Virginia Freedom of Information Act (FOIA).
  • Published team findings must not identify individuals; they can be published only in statistical or other form which protects identity.
  • Confidentiality violations are punishable as a Class 3 misdemeanor.

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Last Updated: 01-10-2012

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