Michael J. Flaherty, Jr.
Message from the District Attorney
"The responsibility for bringing legal action involving crimes committed in Erie County rests with the District Attorney's Office. Once a crime is reported and the accused arrested, the District Attorney's Office, representing the People of the State of New York, begins proceedings against the defendant. You, as the individual victim of the crime, become a witness for the People. You do not have to hire a lawyer to have the case prosecuted. Erie County has Assistant District Attorneys to prosecute your case.
Testifying in court can be a stressful experience for anyone. As a victim of a crime, your role in the criminal prosecution of the defendant is to relate the details of the crime to the best of your ability.
By understanding some basic information about courts, criminal prosecutions, and the part you have as a victim/witness, you will know what to expect. Informed participants can feel more knowledgeable and thus more secure when called upon to testify.
The Erie County District Attorney's Office Victim/Witness Bureau can provide an Advocate to accompany you to all court proceedings. Victim/Witness staff can help explain what will happen at each step in the prosecution. Most importantly, Victim/Witness staff offer support and help in dealing with the feelings you may experience as a result of testifying about your case. This service is free and confidential. When you receive notice of a court date, call the VICTIM/WITNESS BUREAU AT (716) 858-4640."
Michael J. Flaherty, Jr.
Acting Erie County District Attorney
THE VICTIM/WITNESS BUREAU OFFICES ARE LOCATED AT 25 DELAWARE AVE., 6th FLOOR, BUFFALO, NEW YORK 14202. STAFF CAN BE REACHED BY TELEPHONE AT (716) 858-4640.
Since 1984, the Erie County District Attorney's Office Victim/Witness Bureau has provided comprehensive, supportive services to all types of crime victims, witnesses and their family members. Services are typically provided from arrest onward, however, limited services are available to victims where no arrest has been made.
Trained Victim/Witness staff assess the needs of each victim and provide assistance accordingly. Additionally, specially trained staff exist for victims of serious violent felony offenses, homicide survivors, vehicular crimes, adult sexual assault and, child physical and sexual abuse. Bilingual services are available to Spanish speaking victims.
The Victim/Witness Bureau has developed a holistic approach regarding crime victim assistance, from direct services provided to victims, community presentations regarding the program, training of law enforcement officers and criminal justice practitioners, and through active participation in organizations whose efforts result in improved treatment of victims in Erie County, Western New York and New York State. The bureau recruits volunteers from the community and student interns from local colleges, universities and high schools to assist staff with these initiatives.
The Victim/Witness Bureau is funded primarily through a grant from the New York State Office of Victim Services. Erie County funds support the program as well.
The Office of Victim Services has just commemorated a very important event in victims’ services and rights in New York State – its 50th Anniversary. To mark the milestone, the organization has launched a public service campaign designed to spread awareness about the support that is available for crime victims in the state.
Here is a website created especially for the anniversary where you can view a mini documentary on the Office of Victim Services. You can also view the following PSAs on the services provided to victims:
Domestic Violence Bureau:
The Domestic Violence Bureau is located at Buffalo City Court, 50 Delaware Avenue, 4th Floor, Buffalo, New York 14202. Staff can also be reached by telephone at (716) 858-4630. Should you receive a notice of a court date, please call one of the advocates there.
The Domestic Violence Bureau is a special unit within the District Attorney's Office that is staffed by specially trained Attorneys, professional Social Workers and advocates to provide comprehensive assistance to victims of domestic crimes while their case is in Buffalo City Court, or one of the local Town/Village courts.
The Domestic Violence Social Workers have extensive experience working with victims of domestic abuse, both in and out of the court setting. The Social Workers offer crisis counseling, education about domestic violence and the court system, and referrals and linkage to such services as shelters, counseling, and emergency housing. Social Workers are present in court when your case will be heard and are there to offer you support and guidance. They will speak with you about the details of your case and discuss possible outcomes that you would like to see. This information will be given to the Assistant District Attorney handling your case in order to get a more comprehensive picture of your situation. The Social Workers will work with you throughout each stage of your case. If your case is a Felony-level crime, then a social worker will provide on-going support and will accompany you to each proceeding, whether it is to Grand Jury or for a trial.
Most importantly, the social workers will work with you on a plan for your safety. A safety plan is a tool which enables victims of domestic abuse to assess their options and try to reduce their risk of further abuse. Should you feel unsafe at any time, it is important to notify the social workers so they can assist you.