U.S. flag

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

Guidance Document on Considerations for Photographic Documentation in Sexual Assault Cases

NCJ Number
Date Published
August 2022
31 pages

Although not exhaustive, this document presents insights on photographic techniques, available camera and accessory options suitable for sexual assault forensic examinations, and considerations for ensuring the process of photographing patients remains trauma-informed and victim-centered.



This document also highlights the importance of a multidisciplinary approach to both sexual assault forensic examinations and subsequent investigations, which involves professionals, including SANEs, victim advocates, law enforcement investigators, forensic science service providers, and prosecutors. Full body photographs capture an overall view of the patient as they initially appear for the examination.  These photographs are taken in four views (front, back, and left and right sides) and documents the condition of patients’ clothing and visible injuries in anatomical orientation. Mid-range photographs capture a point of interest in relationship to a landmark on the body (e.g., a photograph f a bruise on the right cheek that includes a full profile of the face). SANEs progress by systematically examining and photographing each area of the body to ensure injuries are not overlooked.   Close-up photographs of each injury capture fine details and higher resolutions. Close-up photographs include the following variations: an in situ photograph, a photograph with a ruler or scale, and a photograph that depicts the injury as close as possible without compromising resolution quality, if needed.

Date Published: August 1, 2022