New HampshireDepartment of JusticeOffice of the Attorney General

Lethality Assessment Program

The New Hampshire Attorney General's Office has adopted the research/evidence based Maryland Lethality Assessment Program as a model response for domestic violence cases and strongly recommends its use by all law enforcement agencies statewide.

What is the Lethality Assessment Program (LAP)?

The LAP is an easy-to-use process that features an 12 question screening tool and an accompanying response and referral protocol. It is used by officers, other first responders and professionals to identify high risk domestic violence victims. If a victim screens in at high risk of being seriously injured or killed, a phone call is immediately made to the local 24-hour domestic violence hotline. The victim is encouraged to speak to an advocate on the phone. Crisis center advocates use LAP guidelines to encourage victims to access follow-up services at the crisis center.

What is the Goal?

The goal of the LAP is to connect more victims with crisis center support services, including the shelter, counseling and advocacy, in order to prevent domestic violence homicides. Studies have shown that domestic violence crisis center services can save lives and reduce-re-assaults, yet these programs continue to be under-utilized. A study has shown that only 4% of abused victims had used a domestic violence hotline or shelter within the year prior to being killed by an intimate partner1.

Other Benefits:

It is an educational tool for victims and screeners to understand and recognize the potential for danger. It empowers victims to take positive action to protect themselves. It provides safety planning, information and resources.

How is it Different from Other Lethality Assessment Methods?

It is the only program of its kind in the nation that makes use of a screening tool and an accompanying response and referral protocol. It improves collaboration and services provided by first responders, domestic violence programs and other professionals. It was recognized by Harvard University's Ash Institute as one of the "Top 50" Innovations in American Government programs in 2008.

The program is very easy for first responders to use. It is only used on "high risk" calls not all domestic violence calls. It is only used when:

  • The situation involves intimate partners
  • Law enforcement believes there has been an assault, attempted assault or other domestic violence crime committed or attempted as listed in RSA 173-B:1.
  • Law enforcement believes that if IMMEDIATE INTERVENTION does not take place it is likely that the victim will be seriously injured or killed.
  • Law enforcement's instinct tells you the victim is in a dangerous or lethal situation.

Frequently, law enforcement has had contact with victims and/or perpetrators before the situation turns lethal. One study has shown that in the year prior to the homicide, more than 44% of abusers were arrested, and almost one-third of victims contacted the police2. It is for this reason that early law enforcement intervention can be critical.

Data Collection

To help assess the efficacy of the LAP, the Attorney Generals' Office requests some basic data from law enforcement agencies on a quarterly basis. Specifically, how many LAP screens were completed during the quarter, how many victims screened in as in high danger, and how many victims spoke with a crisis center advocate. The New Hampshire Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence works with each of the crisis centers on how many LAP calls they received and how many victims had follow up contact with the center. The data will be compiled and provided to the LAP Steering Committee for review.

Law enforcement can report their data here: Lethality Assessment Program (LAP) Law Enforcement Agency Data Collection.

Training and Technical Assistance

If your agency needs training on the Lethality Assessment Program or you have any questions about the program, please contact the Office of Victim/Witness Assistance at the Attorney General's Office at (603) 271-6817.

1 Sharps, P. W., et al. (2001). Health care providers' missed opportunities for preventing femicide. Preventive Medicine 33, 373-80.

2 Sharps, P. W., et al. (2001). Health care providers' missed opportunities for preventing femicide. Preventive Medicine 33, 373-80.

New Hampshire Department of Justice
1 Granite Place South | Concord, NH | 03301
Telephone: 603-271-3658