Family Violence Division
Bexar County District Attorney Joe D. Gonzales recognizes that prosecuting crimes domestic violence and crimes against children is important, difficult, and intensive. As a result, upon taking office, DA Gonzales reallocated resources to the Family Violence Division making it the largest division in the District Attorney’s Office. The division is now composed of a total of fifty-seven assistant district attorneys, fourteen Victim Advocates, seven crime victim liaisons, and fifteen criminal investigators. The Family Violence Division is a specially trained group of individuals that handle the prosecution of domestic violence, sexual assault cases, child physical and sexual abuse cases, and human trafficking cases. This division is committed to seeking justice on behalf of victims holding abusers accountable for their acts.
Felony Family Violence
Currently, there are twenty-four assistant district attorneys, nine criminal investigators, and ten victim advocates assigned to the felony courts. These individuals make up ten trial teams. Each trial team is responsible for the prosecution of felony domestic violence and child abuse cases in each of Bexar County’s ten criminal district courts. These cases include crimes such as murder, aggravated assault, injury to a child, aggravated sexual assault of a child, continuous sexual abuse of a child, indecency with a child, and many others. Each trial team routinely handles all court hearings, including bond hearings, motions to revoke probation, sentencing hearings, plea negotiations, and jury trials.
In 2019, DA Gonzales created the Family Violence Intake Section to ensure that the office evaluated felony family violence cases promptly and efficiently. This team is composed of thirteen assistant district attorneys and two criminal investigators. The prosecutors in this section evaluate every felony family domestic violence, child abuse, and sexual assault case filed with the Bexar County District Attorney’s Office by local law enforcement agencies. They review each case thoroughly, collaborate with law enforcement officials during the intake process, and regularly present cases to the Grand Jury for indictment. The Family Violence Intake section is comprised of trained, experienced prosecutors who provide training and serve on the local child abuse Multi-Disciplinary Team. As part of the intake process, five crime victim liaisons make contact with every victim on every case received at the office.
Misdemeanor Family Violence
In addition to the prosecution of felony domestic violence cases, the division is also responsible for the prosecution of misdemeanor domestic violence cases. There are four misdemeanor attorneys assigned to the two specialized family violence misdemeanor court. Three victim advocates, two criminal investigators, two crime victim liaisons, and one paralegal all work together to combat domestic violence and bring justice to survivors.
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Human Trafficking is best described as modern-day slavery. Unfortunately, even today, vulnerable adults are made to engage in prostitution or labor through the use of force, fraud, and coercion, and children are obtained and caused by any means to engage in sexual conduct for the benefit of the trafficker. In most instances, the victims are Bexar County children being exploited by Bexar County residents. In 2013, the Bexar County District Attorney’s Office created its own Human Trafficking Unit, to vigorously prosecute these offenders and work with our community partners to restore these victims.
The office has dedicated two prosecutors, an advocate, and an investigator to this unit. They are responsible for the analysis, assessment, and indictment of these types of cases. The prosecutors coordinate with law enforcement to ensure quality cases and prosecutions as well as provide legal assistance for the design and implementation of pro-active law enforcement initiatives. As needed, they provide trafficking education to law enforcement, school faculty, social workers, healthcare personnel, prosecutors, and parents/citizens across the State. They also participate fully with the County’s Care Coordination partners to see that victims receive the trauma-informed care and resources they need. Lastly, prosecutors participate in the Alamo Area Coalition Against Trafficking to ensure that public awareness and training regarding the issues and dangers of human trafficking continues to be provided to the community.
The Family Violence Division of the Bexar County District Attorney’s Office is a large team of individuals who all have very distinct roles in the pursuit of justice. Each of these individuals is critical to successful prosecution of domestic violence and child abuse cases.
Prosecutor: an assistant district attorney who seeks justice and handles intake and/or court proceedings.
Crime Victim Liaison: personnel who makes initial contact with a survivor upon receipt of case in the division, personnel who provide information about the criminal justice system; notification of the status of the case in the court system; referral to social service agencies.
Victim Advocate: personnel who maintains routine contact with crime victim, provides information about the criminal justice system, provides notification of the status of the case in the court system, and makes referrals to social service agencies.
Criminal Investigator: a licensed peace officer employed by the Bexar County District Attorney to locate victims, witnesses, and any additional evidence needed for prosecution.
Victims’ Assistance: personnel who provides information about the criminal justice system, court accompaniment, provides notification of the status of the case in the court system, makes referrals to social service agencies, and provides assistance with applying for Crime Victim’s Compensation and assistance with Victim Impact Statements.
For additional resources please our Victim Assistance division.
The Bexar County District Attorney’s Office also provides representation to Child Protective Services in civil cases involving child abuse and neglect. Within the Family Violence Division, there are fourteen highly experienced and specially trained assistant district attorneys, paralegals, legal secretaries, and investigators who are assigned to these cases. These individuals are dedicated to assisting CPS in its mission to make Bexar County families stronger. When a child has been the victim of abuse or neglect, CPS may employ several possible measures to ensure the child’s safety. If preventative measures and community resources are unsuccessful, it may become necessary to file a legal action for the protection of the child to include removing the child from the home. After a case is filed, the assistant district attorneys representing CPS work with a team of professionals and the Bexar County Children’s Courts to ensure the best interests of the child are maintained and protected.