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Special Victims Unit

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Special Victims Unit

For the Law & Order franchise spin-off, see Law & Order: Special Victims Unit.

The Special Victims Unit (SVU) is the name of a specialized division within some police departments. The detectives in this division typically investigate crimes involving sexual assault, the very young, or the very elderly, as well as any crime loosely connected with any of the three, all of which are considered especially heinous.

New York City Police Department

The New York City Police Department's Special Victims Division investigates sex crimes. It is housed in separate Borough Patrols (Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens and Staten Island). The Special Victims Division only investigates the following types of cases:

  • Any child under 13 years of age who is the victim of any sex crime or attempted sex crime
  • Any child under 11 years of age who is the victim of abuse by a parent or person legally responsible for the care of the child
  • Any victim of rape (all degrees) or attempted rape (all degrees)
  • Any victim of a criminal sexual act (all degrees) or attempted criminal sexual act (all degrees)
  • Victims of aggravated sexual abuse (all degrees)
  • Victims of sexual abuse 1st degree

The Special Victims Division does not investigate any murder, robbery, or child pornography cases. Murders and robberies are investigated by precinct detective squads. If a sex crime is involved, the Special Victims Division may assist in the investigation. Child pornography is investigated by the NYPD Vice Enforcement Sexual Exploitation of Children Unit.

In popular culture

The television show Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, the first spin-off in the Law & Order franchise, follows the cases of a fictional NYPD SVU division.

The television show Homicide: Life on the Street makes references to the Sex Crimes Unit, another name for Special Victims Unit.

See also

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