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Prosecutor Guide

DOJ Framework for Prosecutors to Strengthen Our National Response to Sexual Assault and Domestic Violence Involving Adult Victims

In May 2024, the Justice Department announced the release of a Framework for Prosecutors to Strengthen our National Response to Sexual Assault and Domestic Violence Involving Adult Victims. Written by prosecutors for prosecutors, this guide provides a blueprint for building provable cases in a trauma-informed manner that treats victims with humanity and ensures due process for defendants. It sets out five practical principles that, if implemented, will lead to better outcomes for victims, safer communities, and greater accountability for perpetrators of gender-based violence.

This guide is intended for prosecutors at all levels of government with all levels of experience: lawyers new to the courtroom; seasoned prosecutors who have spent years in the courtroom but only sometimes handle sexual assault or domestic violence cases; prosecutors specializing in handling these crimes; and supervisors who oversee these cases.

It is a blueprint for a stronger, consistent, and more effective prosecution response to sexual assault and domestic violence involving adult victims.

This guide for prosecutors also serves as a complement to the Justice Department’s 2022 updated guidance on Improving Law Enforcement Response to Sexual Assault and Domestic Violence by Identifying and Preventing Gender Bias.

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Tools and Resources to Implement the Principles


Expect Counterintuitive Behavior by Victims of Sexual Assault and Domestic Violence

Corroborate the Victim’s Account and Rebut Motives to Lie

Although the Victim’s Account Is the Center of the Case, Focus on the Perpetrator’s Conduct

Cultural Humility Is Essential: Collaborate with Victim Specialists and Advocates

Meeting With Victims Requires Patience, a Plan, and a Purpose

Consider Accompanying Criminal Conduct & Alternative Statutory Violations

Lessen Victim Re-traumatization, File Pretrial Motions, & Educate the Court

Consult with and Learn from Experts and Use Expert Witness Testimony to Educate the Jury


For STOP Administrators and STOP-Funded Prosecutors' Offices

Administrators of grants funded through OVW's STOP (Services, Training, Officers, and Prosecutors) Violence Against Women Formula Grant Program and STOP-funded prosecutors’ offices are encouraged to use this guide to comply with the STOP Program's Prosecution Certification (34 U.S.C. § 10454) as it relates to sexual assault and domestic violence:

  • Prosecutors should read the guide and, as a matter of policy, their offices should integrate its principles. Doing so will support a victim-centered approach in the evaluation, investigation, and prosecution of sexual assault and domestic violence.

  • Prosecutors’ offices should provide training to prosecutors, whether live or virtual, that build upon these principles. This website provides some of those materials, as does Aequitas, and other national organizations like the Association of Prosecuting Attorneys and the National District Attorneys’ Association, as well as state organizations that provide training by prosecutors for prosecutors.

  • If prosecutors’ offices meaningfully implement the principles, the need to request the issuance of a warrant (i.e., have a victim arrested in order to secure their testimony), should automatically become an option of last resort. Prosecutors’ offices should develop a protocol regarding the issuance of warrants against victims with the principles as its foundation.

Resources for Survivors

Updated June 6, 2024