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Domestic Violence/Sexual Assault Unit

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In 2013, the Domestic Violence/Sexual Assault Unit (DV/SA) continued its efforts to address crimes of violence committed among family and household members throughout the State of Rhode Island. The Unit worked to achieve its primary goals of ensuring victim safety and offender accountability. In addition to handling felony trials and misdemeanor appeals in Superior Court, DV/SA prosecutors handle bail hearings, violation hearings and motions to reduce or set bail. Unit prosecutors also regularly argue against victims’ motions to vacate no contact orders (NCOs) against offenders.

DV/SA prosecutors conducted trainings through the RI Coalition Against Domestic Violence on investigating and prosecuting domestic and sexual assaults and investigating and collecting evidence in domestic violence cases.

DV/SA prosecutors also coordinate, along with participating police departments and the Sexual Assault and Trauma Resource Center, the interviews of adult women and men who are victims of sexual assault. Additionally, they conduct training sessions for law enforcement officers at local police departments and police academies, as well as for city and town solicitors statewide to focus on proving cases without the participation of reluctant victims, thereby lowering the number of DV cases dismissed at the District Court level.

Prosecutors and victim advocates continue to participate in the training of emergency room personnel at local hospitals on interviewing and collecting evidence from victims of domestic violence and sexual assault. In October of 2013, the DV/SA Unit presented to the Rhode Island Judiciary on a case study of a recent human trafficking investigation and prosecution. Other trainings offered by the Unit included a presentation to medical professionals about mandatory reporting of domestic violence and an hour long seminar on the emerging issue of domestic violence and animal abuse.

In the past year, a total of 51 cases within the Unit were reached for trial in Superior Court.

Working closely with police departments assisting in the investigation of domestic murders, sexual assault and felony assault cases, the Unit will visit the scene to help preserve certain evidence that may be crucial to the successful prosecution of the perpetrators.

Prosecutors in the DV/SA Unit continued to work closely with the Courts in an effort to make the Domestic Violence Court a success and improve the process for victims by making DV a priority, ensuring that these cases get handled efficiently.

Last year, 51 cases assigned within the Unit were reached for trial in Superior Court, the majority of which were settled through plea negotiations on the day of trial, and 18 cases prosecuted by the DV/SA Unit went to trial. These cases included a range of domestic violence and sexual assault including murder, first and second degree sexual assault and felony assault.