Traditional criminal prosecution is typically reactive, as prosecutors are not called upon to prevent crime. Domestic violence cases call upon the prosecutor to be proactive as well. Accordingly, the Domestic Violence Bureau has a dual mission: to prosecute offenders and to prevent them from harming the victim in the future. This unique reactive/proactive prosecution model is made more challenging by the number of cases and the unique needs and behaviors of many domestic violence victims.
The Domestic Violence Bureau is responsible for the prosecution of all cases arising between domestic and intimate partners; i.e. crimes occurring between spouses, ex-spouses, family members who live together, and those involved in intimate relationships. In contrast to most other cases, domestic violence cases require much more attention and time because domestic violence victims are often frightened or reluctant to prosecute.
Prosecutors assigned to the Domestic Violence Bureau receive specialized training and appear in all city, town and village courts. They also staff several OCA specialty courts, including the Buffalo City Court Domestic Violence Part, the Erie County Court Felony Domestic Violence Court and the State Integrated Domestic Violence Court. Prosecutors are assisted by specially trained advocates and social workers that work with victims to address their special needs and to ensure their safety.
A prosecutor assigned to the Domestic Violence Bureau will carry a caseload involving any combination of the following offenses: assault, burglary, robbery, criminal contempt, endangering the welfare of a child, unlawful imprisonment, intimidating a victim/witness, menacing, criminal mischief, and stalking. This list is not exhaustive as each unique relationship creates a unique set of circumstances.