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Policy Resources & Publications

White House Initiatives

Federal Statutes & Codes

State Statutes & Codes

Local DC Statues & Codes

Legal Definitions of Sex Crimes in the District of Columbia


Already Passed & Enacted into Law:

  • The Violence Against Women Act of 1994 (VAWA)
    • In 1994, VAWA created the first U.S. federal legislation acknowledging domestic violence and sexual assault as crimes, and provided federal resources to encourage community-coordinated responses to combating violence.  Its reauthorization in 2000 improved the foundation established by VAWA 1994 by creating a much-needed legal assistance program for victims and by expanding the definition of crime to include dating violence and stalking.  Its subsequent reauthorization in 2005 took a more holistic approach to addressing these crimes and created new programs to meet the emerging needs of communities working to prevent violence.  Included in the 2005 reauthorization were new focus areas such as prevention, landmark housing protections for survivors, funding for rape crisis centers, and culturally- and linguistically-specific services.  VAWA 2013 will ensure the continuation and improvement of these vital, lifesaving programs and laws.
    • VAWA 2013 does the following:
      • Justice and safety for Native American Women:Native American victims of domestic violence often cannot seek justice because their courts are not allowed to prosecute non-Native offenders — even for crimes committed on Tribal land.  This major gap in justice, safety, and violence prevention must be addressed.  VAWA 2013 includes a solution that would give Tribal courts the authority they need to hold offenders in their communities accountable.
      • Justice and safety for LGBT survivors: Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender survivors of violence experience the same rates of violence as straight individuals.  However, LGBT survivors sometimes face discrimination when seeking help and protection.  VAWA 2013 prohibits such discrimination to ensure that all victims of violence have access to the same services and protection to overcome trauma and find safety.
      • Safe housing for survivors: Landmark VAWA housing protections that were passed in 2005 have helped prevent discrimination against and unjust evictions of survivors of domestic violence in public and assisted housing.  The law, however, did not cover all federally subsidized housing programs.  VAWA 2013 expands these protections to individuals in all federally subsidized housing programs, explicitly protects victims of sexual assault and creates emergency housing transfer options.
      • Protections for immigrant survivors: VAWA 2013 maintains important protections for immigrant survivors of abuse, while also making key improvements to existing provisions including by strengthening the International Marriage Broker Regulation Act and the provisions around self-petitions and U visas.
      • Justice on campuses: College students are among those most vulnerable to dating violence.  Provisions in VAWA 2013 add additional protections for students by requiring schools to implement a recording process for incidences of dating violence, as well as report the findings.  In addition, schools would be required to create plans to prevent this violence and educate victims on their rights and resources.
      • Maintaining VAWA grant programs: VAWA grants are effectively meeting the needs of millions of victims across the country.  VAWA 2013 includes many important improvements to these grant programs, including allowing state domestic violence coalitions to be the lead applicant on the Grants to Encourage Arrest program; ensuring that specific stakeholders, including domestic violence coalitions, play a meaningful role in developing state STOP plans; and providing a formal process for the Office on Violence Against Women to receive coalition and other key domestic violence and sexual assault community input.
      • *Source
    • 2013 VAWA Reauthorization Key Provisions
    • The Prison Rape Elimination Act of 2003 (PREA)
      • The Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA) was passed in 2003 with unanimous support from both parties in Congress. The purpose of the act was to “provide for the analysis of the incidence and effects of prison rape in Federal, State, and local institutions and to provide information, resources, recommendations and funding to protect individuals from prison rape.” (Prison Rape Elimination Act, 2003). In addition to creating a mandate for significant research from the Bureau of Justice Statistics and through the National Institute of Justice, funding through the Bureau of Justice Assistance and the National Institute of Corrections supported major efforts in many state correctional, juvenile detention, community corrections, and jail systems.
      • The act also created the National Prison Rape Elimination Commission and charged it with developing draft standards for the elimination of prison rape. Those standards were published in June 2009, and were turned over to the Department of Justice for review and passage as a final rule. That final rule became effective August 20, 2012.
      • In 2010, the Bureau of Justice Assistance funded the National PREA Resource Center to continue to provide federally funded training and technical assistance to states and localities, as well as to serve as a single-stop resource for leading research and tools for all those in the field working to come into compliance with the federal standards.
      • * source
    • Victims of Crimes Act (VOCA)
    • Sexual Assault Forensic Evidence Reporting Act (SAFER Act)
      • This Act was signed into law in 2013 as Title X of the reauthorization of VAWA. The SAFER Act aims to reduce the sexual assault kit backlog through a variety of funding streams and reporting mechanisms. Specifically, the SAFER Act amended the Debbie Smith Act to create grants to audit the sexual assault kit backlog, providing between 5-7% of funding to be allocated for audits of the sexual assault kit backlog.
    • The Justice For All Act
      • This Act includes procedures for post-conviction DNA testing in federal court as well as establishing a federal grant program to provide money to states to defray the costs of post-conviction DNA testing. Additionally, the Act contains provisions for increasing the quality of representation for indigent defendants in state capital cases, and for compensating victims of wrongful conviction.
    • Debbie Smith Act
    • Justice For Victims of Trafficking Act
      • Text of full Bill (*PDF Attachment)
      • This Bill amends the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act of 2005 to authorize the United States Attorney General to award block grants to develop, improve, or expand comprehensive domestic child trafficking deterrence programs to rescue and restore the lives of trafficking victims, while investigating and prosecuting offenses involving child trafficking.The Bill also amends the Victims of Child Abuse Act of 1990 to include human trafficking and the production of child pornography within the definition of child abuse for purposes of such Act. The Bill amends the federal criminal code to: (1) increase restitution for victims of human trafficking; (2) set forth provisions for combating aggravated human trafficking racketeering; (3) allow state and local prosecutors to obtain wiretap warrants in state courts for investigations into human trafficking, child sexual exploitation, and child pornography production; (4) increase penalties for offenses involving enticement into slavery, sex trafficking of children, child exploitation, and repeat sex offenders; and (5) revise the definition of the crime of travel with intent to engage in illicit sexual conduct to facilitate prosecutions of such crime.
    • Preventing Sex Trafficking & Strengthening Families Act
      • This bill addresses federal adoption incentives and amends the Social Security Act (SSA) to require the state plan for foster care and adoption assistance to demonstrate that the state agency has developed policies and procedures for identifying, documenting in agency records, and determining appropriate services with respect to, any child or youth over whom the state agency has responsibility for placement, care, or supervision who the state has reasonable cause to believe is, or is at risk of being, a victim of sex traffickingor a severe form of trafficking in persons. This bipartisan legislation is aimed at reducing the incidence of sex trafficking among youth in foster care, empowering and promoting normalcy for foster youth, and increase the amount of child support provided to families in which one parent resides outside of the U.S.



  • Title IX
    • Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex in educational programs or activities operated by recipients of Federal financial assistance. Sexual harassment of students, including acts of sexual violence, is a form of sex discrimination expressly prohibited by Title IX. The U.S. Department of Education Office of Civil Rights (OCR) recommends policy guidance to provide universities with information to assist them in meeting their Title IX obligations, and provides the public with information about their rights.
    • See more about Title IX under Policy Q&As
  • Jeanne Cleary Act
    • The Clery Act is the landmark federal law that supplements Title IX and mandates that colleges and universities that participate in Federal financial aid programs to disclose information about crimes occurring on and around their campuses. Universities must also issue warnings after certain crimes occur on campus, and devise emergency response and notification policies. The Clery Act was signed into law by President George H. Bush on November 8, 1990 and is enforced by the U.S. Department of Education (DOE).

Helpful Links:


DC Code of Sex Crimes Definitions
DC CSA Reporting Requirements
IVAWA Fact Sheet
Policy Resources and Publications Attachment-WH W & GOC Report
Legal Definitions of Sex Crimes DC
Not Alone White House Task Force on SA
Sen. McCaskill’s Sexual Violence on Campus Survey Report
Summary of Confidentiality Laws by State

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