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Press Release

Justice Department Announces Framework for Prosecutors to Strengthen National Response to Sexual Assault and Domestic Violence

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Northern District of Indiana

WASHINGTON – The Justice Department today announced an important new resource for prosecutors. The Framework for Prosecutors to Strengthen Our National Response to Sexual Assault and Domestic Violence Involving Adult Victims, written by prosecutors for prosecutors, sets out five principles that, if implemented, will lead to better outcomes for victims, safer communities, and greater accountability for perpetrators of sexual assault and domestic violence.

“When investigating and prosecuting the heinous crimes of sexual assault and domestic violence, prosecutors must pursue justice in a manner that does not retraumatize victims and survivors,” said Attorney General Merrick B. Garland. “This framework for prosecutors reflects the Justice Department’s commitment to strengthening our collective response to sexual assault and domestic violence, and to setting the standard for how prosecutors should respond to victims and survivors.”

Declinations of meritorious allegations may result from misconceptions about how crimes involving sexual assault and domestic violence are committed and reported, how victims give their accounts, and the evidence required to prove their accounts beyond a reasonable doubt. This guide addresses that phenomenon by discussing: (1) relying on the evidentiary value of the victim’s account to frame the investigation; (2) the fundamental importance of prosecutors, investigators, and victim specialists working together and meeting with victims; (3) using the law and evidentiary rules effectively; (4) being thoughtful about what justice and accountability look like; and (5) sustaining a productive, healthy, and committed workforce by redefining success– all of which are rooted in a prosecutor’s primary obligation to seek the truth and uphold the U.S. Constitution and the rule of law.

“Achieving justice for victims and survivors of sexual assault and domestic violence is one of the Department’s highest priorities,” said Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco. “This guide provides a framework that we encourage prosecutors throughout the country to use when evaluating, investigating, and prosecuting these critically important cases.”

More than 120 state, Tribal, military, and federal prosecutors, as well as advocates, academics, and investigators from an array of jurisdictions were consulted in developing this guide. The principles set forth in this guide are designed to encourage and assist prosecutors of all levels of experience to handle cases involving sexual assault and domestic violence. This guide further 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.

“The Justice Department is committed to strengthening the prosecution of sexual assault and domestic violence crimes and ensuring a trauma-informed approach to working with victims,” said Acting Associate Attorney General Benjamin C. Mizer. “This guide provides a practical, accessible framework that prosecutors can use when evaluating, investigating, and prosecuting these crimes. We thank everyone who contributed to this guide for sharing their expertise and experience and for their years of dedicated work to address and combat sexual assault and domestic violence.”

“The framework announced today reaffirms our commitment to expanding access to justice for all survivors, who deserve respect and the right to be heard,” said Director Rosie Hidalgo of the Justice Department’s Office on Violence Against Women (OVW). “Enhancing the prosecution response to sexual assault and domestic violence in a trauma-informed manner is a key piece in ending gender-based violence, as part of a broader coordinated community response that includes services and support for survivors, and can have a real, immediate impact on the safety of survivors and entire communities.”

In conjunction with this guide, OVW launched a new webpage with resources designed to assist prosecutors in implementing the guide and its principles.

OVW provides leadership in developing the nation’s capacity to reduce violence through the implementation of the Violence Against Women Act and subsequent legislation. Created in 1995, OVW administers financial and technical assistance to communities across the country that are developing programs, policies, and practices aimed at ending domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, and stalking. In addition to overseeing federal grant programs, OVW funds national training and technical assistance and undertakes initiatives in response to special needs identified by communities facing acute challenges. Learn more at

Updated May 20, 2024