U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government, Department of Justice.

Guidelines for Prosecution of Domestic Violence Cases

NCJ Number
Date Published
36 pages
These guidelines are aimed at reducing domestic violence.
The guidelines presented in this document are suggested to assist State, county, and municipal prosecutors in promoting victim safety and enhancing the prosecution rate of domestic violence cases. Prosecutors should be mindful that a domestic violence perpetrator seeks to control the victim without regard to the victim's well being and often without regard as to whether children are spectators. This abusive condition necessitates that prosecutors carefully listen to the safety concerns of victims. A pro-prosecution policy makes it clear to the perpetrator that the prosecutor, and not the victim, is responsible for decisions regarding criminal prosecution. By relying primarily on the evidence collected by law enforcement rather than solely on the victim's testimony, the prosecutor may be able to reduce the risk of retaliation by the perpetrator against the victim and increase the likelihood of a successful prosecution. Three sections provide information on general prosecution guidance, victim/witness issues recommendations, and trial recommendations. Also included is an Evidence Based Collection Checklist, a list of factors of review required when determining predominate/primary aggressor; a sample Domestic Violence Prosecution Protocol; a Sample Prosecution Protocol Overview; two bench cards from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF): Protection Orders and Federal Firearms Prohibition and Misdemeanor Crimes of Domestic Violence and Federal Firearms Prohibition; and a sample domestic violence supplemental report form.