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Domestic violence indictments up, fewer dismissals: DA

The number of indictments for domestic violence cases in the borough has increased by more than 250 percent over the past two years and fewer cases are being dismissed, Queens District Attorney Richard Brown said last week.

Brown said there were 85 domestic violence indictments in 2002, up from 24 in 2000. He said the creation in October 2000 of the Domestic Violence Bureau, a separate office within the district attorney’s office, was the main reason for the jump.

“The sharp increase in domestic violence prosecutions is an indication of greater public awareness of the issue of violence within the home, improved teamwork among police and prosecutors and better case preparation, including the use of new technology in which Queens County is a leader,” he said in a release Jan. 22.

The district attorney also said the number of defendants who have waived their indictments and pleaded guilty in State Supreme Court has increased by 136 percent during the same time period.

The Domestic Violence Bureau has implemented various techniques to increase the number of prosecutions against domestic violence perpetrators and also support victims of the crimes.

He also said the bureau has recorded one of the lowest dismissal rates of 19 percent in the city for domestic violence cases.

Brown said new technology has increased his office’s communication with the New York Police Department, helping authorities identify and capture those who commit acts of domestic violence.

He said digital photography has enabled police to transfer photographs of victims to a secure telephone line in the district attorney’s office to be used at arraignments and trials. Brown said no other boroughs use similar technology in their prosecution efforts.

The digital technology will soon be expanded to allow police to transfer recordings of 911 or other emergency calls to prosecutors, Brown said. This, he said, will help district attorneys prepare evidence for trial.

“Innovative approaches, technological advances, aggressive vertical prosecution and open communication with the Police Department are the keys to our success in the prosecution of domestic violence,” Brown said.

He also discussed a program that counsels domestic violence victims almost immediately after incidents. The district attorney said specially trained Domestic Violence Bureau prosecutors now go out regularly to hospitals and police precincts to interview victims and gather accounts of alleged domestic violence occurrences.

Brown said Domestic Violence Bureau assistant district attorneys are trained to work with victims and can guide them to the appropriate counselors or other social services.

Reach reporter Alex Davidson by e-mail at TimesLedger@aol.com or by phone at 1-718-229-0300, Ext. 156.

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