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EVAWI > Resources > Forensic Compliance > FAQs > Evidence-Based Prosecution
Forensic Compliance Frequently Asked Questions

Note: The information on this website is designed to: (a) communicate the requirements of the Violence Against Women Act (as reauthorized in 2005 and 2013), and (b) offer recommended practices for implementation. The goal is to highlight examples of communities striving to achieve a higher standard of the “spirit of the law,” rather than simply meeting the “letter of the law” for VAWA forensic compliance.  It is critically important that readers consult state laws and regulations, as well as local policies and protocols, because they may have additional requirements beyond those included in VAWA 2005 and VAWA 2013. For more information specific to your state or territory, contact the STOP Grant Administrator or coalition of advocacy organizations providing services for sexual assault victims.  A listing is available from the website for the Office on Violence Against Women, U.S. Department of Justice.

Q Should evidence-based prosecution be used in sexual assault cases?
A Should evidence-based prosecution be used in sexual assault cases?

Evidence-based prosecution is a strategy typically only seen in domestic violence cases where the victim has recanted. In these situations, the prosecution sometimes moves forward with a case based only on the physical evidence and testimony of witnesses – but without the cooperation or testimony of the victim.

For most of us working in this field, we would agree that this strategy has been extremely successful in many domestic violence cases. Victims of domestic violence are often very relieved to know that they are not the ones who are responsible for deciding whether or not criminal charges will be filed. The goal for evidence-based prosecution is therefore to hold more offenders accountable for their crimes and also to decrease the risk of additional harm to the victim because the offender knows that the victim is not the one in control of decision making.

Based on the success of evidence-based prosecution with domestic violence cases, we sometimes hear discussion about the possibility of extending its use to sexual assault. We discuss this topic in an article entitled, Best Practice or Buzzword: Sorting out Fact From Fiction in the Community Response to Violence Against Women by Joanne Archambault and Kim Lonsway. It originally appeared in the e-news for Sexual Assault Training & Investigations (SATI) on January 29, 2007.

This project is supported by Grant No. 2013-TA-AX-K045 awarded by the Office on Violence Against Women, U.S. Department of Justice. The opinions, findings, conclusions, and recommendations expressed on this website are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Department of Justice, Office on Violence Against Women.
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