The Trial Division has principal responsibility for prosecuting misdemeanor and felony crimes. It is comprised of six trial bureaus, and a number of specialized bureaus and units which target certain types of crimes or have other specialized knowledge, training and experience.
The trial bureaus are each staffed by approximately 50 Assistant District Attorneys of varying levels of experience. In addition to the legal staff and supervisors, each bureau has a bureau administrator, investigative analysts and paralegals.
After a comprehensive training program, first-year Assistant District Attorneys begin by handling misdemeanor prosecutions in Criminal Court, including a wide variety of cases such as misdemeanor assault, driving while intoxicated, drug possession, and theft offenses. As assistants gain experience, they handle more serious felony cases in Supreme Court. These cases include homicides, shootings, stabbings, sexual assaults, burglaries, assaults, drug and gun possession, robberies, and other types of violent crime.
Assistants in the Trial Division prosecute cases vertically. This means that they are assigned cases immediately after arrest and are responsible for those cases to final disposition by trial or plea. This vertical prosecution system means that one prosecutor will usually stay with the case from start to finish, better serving the victims, witnesses and law enforcement officials involved in the prosecution of crime. For more information on the criminal justice process, see Arrest to Sentence.
Felony assistants in the specialized bureaus and units develop expertise in certain types of crimes, involving sex crimes, child abuse, domestic violence, elder abuse, cybercrimes, identity theft, hate crimes, vehicular crimes, and other serious violent crime.
The Trial Division also handles public assistance fraud, litigation surrounding psychiatric evaluations, landlord-tenant narcotics evictions, as well as a crime strategies unit that identifies groups and individuals most responsible for committing crimes in our communities.
The Special Victims Bureau, created by District Attorney Vance in September 2010, is committed to prosecuting crimes against some of Manhattan’s most sensitive and vulnerable victims, whose lives are significantly changed by the nature of the crimes committed against them. The Bureau oversees four units that specialize in handling cases involving special victims: the Sex Crimes Unit, Child Abuse Unit, Domestic Violence Unit, and Elder Abuse Unit. By joining these units, we seek to better serve the victims of these crimes by coordinating Office, law enforcement and social services resources. The Bureau provides the Assistant District Attorneys who work in these units with the most advanced training for investigating and prosecuting these cases with standardized best practices to ensure that our victims are protected and able to restore safety in their lives. In addition, the Bureau is proactive in participating in legislative reform to ensure effective and successful prosecutions. Our mission is to bring order and stability to victims’ lives while ensuring that their voices are heard in the criminal justice process.
The Sex Crimes Unit thoroughly investigates and prosecutes cases involving sexual assaults and other related crimes. The Unit’s experienced, specially-trained prosecutors strive to bring the strongest prosecutions for victims of these heinous crimes, while ensuring that those who are falsely accused are not prosecuted and are cleared as early in the process as possible. The Unit endeavors to treat everyone with the respect and consideration appropriate for dealing with these serious and sensitive cases.
How to get help: 212-335-9373
The Child Abuse Unit’s mission is to stop child abuse and child abusers, to protect children, and to keep children and families safe, healthy, and strong. The Unit specializes in investigating and prosecuting cases involving the abuse of children and uses a child-friendly setting to help children feel comfortable and safe. We partner with local and national experts to seek just outcomes and to provide support, medical care, and mental health services to victims and their families.
The Domestic Violence Unit specializes in investigating and prosecuting crimes committed against intimate partners. Its mission is to reduce crimes against intimate partners through vigorous prosecution by highly-trained prosecutors devoted to protecting victims and holding the perpetrators accountable. The Unit applies a multi-disciplinary approach to assisting our victims by working with victim advocates, social workers and counselors. We believe in working with the community in order to help break the cycle of violence through outreach, education, and training. The safety of our victims is our number one priority.
The Elder Abuse Unit investigates and prosecutes crimes involving victims, 60 years of age and older, including those who are impaired. The Unit handles crimes committed against older victims of crimes, including physical abuse, domestic violence, financial exploitation and neglect. We work closely with the New York Police Department and other agencies throughout New York City to improve the older crime victims’ quality of life while providing guidance and assistance as they navigate their way through the criminal justice system.
How to get help: 212-335-8920
Human Trafficking degrades and victimizes countless individuals every year through forced labor, sexual exploitation, and other forms of servitude. Victims are often physically abused, psychologically coerced, and fearful of reporting their abuse to authorities. Trafficked individuals are forced, tricked, or coerced to work in a variety of jobs or in the sex industry. These victims are often emotionally and economically dependent upon their abusers, and remain silent as their worlds grow smaller and more dangerous. Along with our partners in law enforcement and the advocate community, we’ve made it easier for trafficked individuals to report crime and obtain services.
How to get help: (212) 335-3400
The Cybercrime and Identity Theft Bureau (“CITB”) is committed to protecting the public by combating sophisticated cybercrime and identity theft schemes in Manhattan and worldwide. Recognizing that the Internet is the crime scene of the 21st century, the Bureau employs cutting-edge technology to thwart cybercriminals by prosecuting check and credit card fraud, cyber impersonation, child exploitation and pornography, cyber-stalking, cyber-bullying, computer hacking, as well as white collar crimes involving money laundering and threats to financial institutions. Formed in March 2010 by District Attorney Vance, the Bureau works on prosecutions in both the Trial and Investigation Divisions.In addition to highly trained attorneys, the Bureau includes a dedicated team of investigators and forensic analysts, led by nationally-recognized computer crimes and computer forensic experts.
The Crime Strategies Unit works closely with the New York Police Department, other law enforcement agencies and members of the community to identify groups and individuals most responsible for committing crimes that impact our communities, from violent crimes to lower-level, quality-of-life offenses. The Unit’s Assistant District Attorneys forge partnerships with local community residents and police precincts to gain knowledge about the crimes that plague their communities and to identify ways to address crime trends in Manhattan neighborhoods. The Unit works with its partners in the community, including law enforcement and other agencies, to develop and implement intelligence-driven prosecution strategies targeting priority offenders and neighborhoods.
The Forensic Sciences/Cold Case Unit, created in April 2010, specializes in the use of state-of-the-art forensic science to enhance investigations and prosecutions in a manner that comports with the highest standards in the field. The Unit serves in an advisory capacity to the Trial Division on all cases that involve forensic science, regardless of the nature and severity of the charges, and is designed to ensure that all have access to the tools needed to prosecute the variety of cases that involve forensic scientific evidence. Furthermore, the Unit provides training to ADAs on forensic science and the handling of cold cases to ensure that our Office continues to use the most sophisticated forensic evidence in prosecutions. The Unit also reviews motions for post-conviction DNA testing and conducts systematic reviews of every unsolved homicide in Manhattan committed in the last 30 years to determine whether the homicides can be solved using state-of-the-art forensic testing techniques.
Created by DA Vance in May 2010, the Hate Crimes Unit investigates and prosecutes hate and bias crimes committed in New York County. The Unit collaborates with the New York City Police Department and community organizations to develop strategies that seek to prevent bias-motivated crimes, whether based on race, ethnicity, gender, religion, or sexual orientation. The Assistants District Attorneys assigned to the Hates Crimes Unit have been specifically trained to investigate and prosecute these types of crimes with the assistance of experienced investigators.
If you believe that you may be the victim of a hate or bias crime in Manhattan, call the District Attorney’s Office’s Hate Crimes Hotline at 212-335-3100.
The Vehicular Crimes Unit oversees and provides support to Assistants District Attorneys office-wide in cases including Vehicular Homicide, Assault, DWI and other vehicle-related crimes. These cases are often very technical and involve obtaining blood search warrants, conducting analyses to reconstruct crash scenes, determining speed from skid and yaw marks, and analyzing pedestrian throw and impact findings. The Unit works closely with the New York Police Department's Accident Investigation Squad and Highway Unit, frequently interacting with detectives from the time a crash occurs. Assistants routinely go to crash scenes to enhance the investigation of these cases. Assistants receive on-going training on issues involving vehicular cases, with more than 40 ADAs today trained in vehicular prosecution.
The Violent Criminal Enterprises Unit is responsible for the investigation and prosecution of violent organized crime in Manhattan and beyond, including drug-related homicides, armed street gangs, interstate gun runners and narcotics dealers. The Unit’s current principal focus is combating violent street crime committed by gangs, particularly gang shootings, and the possession and sale of illegal firearms. The Unit works with the elite units of the NYPD, as well as with federal agents from Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) and New York City’s joint firearms and narcotics task forces to reduce violent street crime by disarming violent offenders. The Unit was created by District Attorney Vance in June of 2010.
New York State’s welfare programs, particularly its Medicaid program, are rife with the potential for abuse and fraud. The Public Assistance Fraud Unit (PAFU), in partnership with New York City’s Human Resources Administration, prosecutes fraud and abuse committed by recipients of public assistance. By investigating and prosecuting these cases to the fullest extent of the law, PAFU recovers money for the city and state, and also helps discourage future crimes against welfare programs. The Unit also helps fight a growing problem: the illegal sale of prescription drugs, particularly medication intended for the treatment of pain management or AIDS. Often, these medications are obtained by Medicaid recipients through forged prescriptions, aided by unethical doctors who are often paid for writing these prescriptions. The prosecution of Medicaid clients who abuse their Medicaid privileges and the doctors who participate in this type of fraud are a main focus of PAFU’s prosecutions.
The Unit works closely with law enforcement agencies, including the Human Resources Administration's Bureau of Fraud Investigations, New York State Office of the Medicaid Inspector General, New York City Police Department, New York State Department of Health, and the United States Department of Health. Created in 1995, the Unit has uncovered more than $7 million in fraud involving public assistance programs.
Given its diversity of practice, the Special Litigation Bureau often serves as a consultant throughout the District Attorney's Office and law enforcement community. In addition to the investigation and prosecution of homicides and other felony offenses, the bureau represents the Office in civil matters, including psychiatric litigation involving defendants found to be not responsible for their crimes as a result of a mental disease or defect. The Bureau is in charge of the Office’s Narcotics Eviction Program, which utilizes civil statutes to evict individuals who use their residential or commercial premises in connection with an illegal business. It represents the Office and its personnel in litigation brought against the Office and coordinates with various executive and law enforcement authorities for the extradition of fugitives apprehended in Manhattan. The Bureau also receives all requests for information made pursuant to the Freedom of Information Law.