The Allegheny County District Attorney’s Office Domestic Violence Prosecution Unit, prosecutes cases involving current or former sexual or intimate partners who engage in criminal conduct of a threatening, intimidating or physically violent nature.
The District Attorney of Allegheny County is committed to prosecuting domestic violence crimes vigorously, with the safety of domestic violence victims as our primary concern.
Domestic violence is the most under reported crime in America.
Domestic battering tends to increase and become more violent over time.
Estimated total annual medical cost of domestic violence in Pennsylvania
of all female victims of homicide in Pennsylvania were victims of domestic violence
Who are the Victims of Domestic Violence?
Victims of domestic violence can be female or male, of any race, religion, sexual orientation or economic background.
Women are ten times more likely to be victimized by an intimate partner than men. Approximately two million women in America are victims of domestic violence every year.
What to do if you are a victim of Domestic Violence?
Report domestic violence to the police
Get medical attention if you have been injured.
Get a protection from abuse (PFA) order.
Get assistance for you and your children.
Shelters provide a variety of support services that are confidential and free of charge. Services include
24 Hour Confidential Crisis Hotline
Shelter for Victims & Children
Individual Counseling & Support Groups
Legal Advocates to assist victims in the court process
Information & Referrals
Justice Systems Available to Help Victims of Domestic Violence
If you are a victim of domestic abuse there are two different systems to help protect you and your family, the criminal system (for prosecuting crimes) and the civil system (to obtain protection from abuse orders).
If your partner has committed criminal conduct of a threatening, intimidating or physically violent nature criminal charges can be filed by calling the police.
After the defendant is arrested the magistrate or district justice sets a bond amount. If the defendant can raise the this amount of money he will be released from jail. In some cases additional conditions, such as no contact with the victim, are placed on the defendant. If the defendant violates these additional conditions the defendant’s bond may be revoked and the defendant may be sent to jail.
The first hearing after a criminal case is filed is called the preliminary hearing. It will normally be scheduled within 3 to 10 days after the defendant is arrested. The victim is required to come to the preliminary hearing, which is held at a district justice or magistrate’s office.
The preliminary hearing is held to determine whether or not to hold the case for trial. If the case is held for trial, a trial or plea will take place several months later at the Allegheny County Courthouse located at the corner of Forbes and Grant Streets in downtown Pittsburgh.
The victim should receive a subpoena to appear for the trial. All persons (including victims) are required by law to obey a subpoena and appear for the trial.
The victim may also be asked by the District Attorney to attend a Pre-trial Interview at the District Attorney’s Office in order to assist in preparing the case.
Allegheny County District Attorney’s Domestic Violence Prosecution Unit
The District Attorney of Allegheny County is leading the fight against domestic violence. Domestic violence is not a private family matter but rather is criminal conduct the must be prosecuted vigorously. Through its policies and procedures, the Office of the District Attorney will work to promote the safety of domestic violence victims while at the same time holding batterers accountable for their criminal conduct.
With victim safety as our primary goal, the success of the Domestic Violence Prosecution Unit will not be measured by the number of convictions. The unit intends to prosecute cases of domestic violence more vigorously than they have been prosecuted in the past, focusing on improvement in three areas;
- Filing all appropriate criminal charges.
- Ensuring cases are not withdrawn or dropped simply due to victim reluctance, but are pursued based on the facts of the case and law. Assistant District Attorney’s will make decisions on how to proceed in consultation with the police and victim input.
- Monitoring of the defendant’s compliance with all conditions of bond and probation; such as an order of no contact, failure to comply with counseling and commission of new crimes.
The Domestic Violence Prosecution Unit consists of 3 trial attorneys and 2 paralegals. The telephone number is (412) 350-4406.
The Office of the District Attorney will work together with other agencies in an effort to assist victims in ending the violence in their lives.
Domestic Violence – Internet Safety
An abuser may track your internet activities therefore, attention needs to be paid when visiting sites on the internet.
You do not need to be a computer professional to monitor a person’s internet activities. Internet usage can be monitored by checking internet history or using Spyware, hacking tools, or keystroke loggers.
If you are in danger, please try to use a safe computer that an abusive person does not have access to. A safe computer could be at a trusted friend’s house, a public library, or an internet café.
Please be aware of the following:
Instant Messaging, Text Messaging, and Email are not safe ways to contact someone about the abuse taking place.
A safe way to contact someone would be calling one of the hotlines provided below. If you must use Email or Instant Messaging, please use an account your abuser does not know about on a safe computer.
If you are concerned that you are being monitored, deleting all internet history on your computer may appear to be suspicious.
If you are concerned you are being monitored, use a safe computer to create your escape plan.
In addition, you should continue your normal daily activities on the computer that is being monitored.
If you are in danger, please Call 911 and/or Call your local hotline (listed below).
Domestic Violence Programs & Hotlines
Due to the confidential nature of the work and the need to maintain safety and security, domestic violence programs do not publish the addresses of their shelters or safe homes. The hotline number is the key to accessing all the shelter services.
Women's Center & Shelter of Greater Pittsburgh
24 Hour Hotline: (412) 687-8005
Text: (412) 744-8445
Shelter Intake and Crisis Counseling 24 hours
Crisis Center North
24 Hour CCN Hotline: (412) 364-5556
24 Hour Toll Free Hotline: (866) 782-0911
Safe Home Intake and Crisis Counseling 24 hours