The Special Victims Unit (SVU) is comprised of several units, each with a focus on some of the most vulnerable individuals who come into contact with the criminal justice system. SVU handles crimes against children, family violence offenses, sexual assault cases, and termination of parental rights proceedings involving Child Protective Services.

Child Abuse

The SVU/Child Abuse Unit is comprised of 9 of our most experienced prosecutors who handle all cases of physical and sexual abuse committed against children in Travis County. In addition to the 9 trial court prosecutors, another prosecutor is housed at the Center for Child Protection and is responsible for staffing child abuse cases on a daily basis with police detectives, CPS investigators, forensic interviewers, and medical personnel in a collaborative effort to thoroughly investigate and prosecute child abuse cases. The collaboration involves an interagency partnership and agreement known as the Child Protection Team for Travis County.

Please visit the Center for Child Protection for more information about the Child Protection Team.

mickler a yellow labrador sitting
Mickler is perhaps the most popular volunteer at the Center for Child Protection. Mickler can frequently be seen around the courthouse providing support for children when they are asked to testify in court.
APD Police Chief Brian Manley along with Travis County Sheriff Sally Hernandez and District Attorney Margaret Moore attend a press conference during Child Abuse Prevention Month (April 2017).
APD Police Chief Brian Manley along with Travis County Sheriff Sally Hernandez and District Attorney Margaret Moore attend a press conference during Child Abuse Prevention Month (April 2017).

Civil Unit

The SVU/Civil Unit represents Child Protective Services (CPS) in child neglect and abuse cases in the civil district courts. The Civil Unit has 9 prosecutors, one of whom is housed at the Center for Child Protection, staffing civil petitions on behalf of CPS in cases where the removal of a child from a household is necessary for the safety and welfare of the child. Prosecutors appear in court on a daily basis to protect the best interest of the child in parental termination cases when extreme abuse and neglect have occurred.

Family Violence

The SVU/Family Violence Unit prosecutes cases involving violence against family/household members and intimate partners. The Family Violence Unit participates in weekly meetings with law enforcement, victim services, and prosecutors from the County Attorney’s Office who handle misdemeanor family violence offenses to make informed charging decisions and assist law enforcement in gathering additional evidence that may be helpful to the case. Victim outreach is also made within a short period of time following the report to law enforcement to provide victims with helpful information about the criminal justice system and to make them aware of the community resources available to them. The collaborative effort allows each agency to share information and better coordinate the investigation and prosecution of these serious cases.

Adult Sexual Assault

The SVU/Sexual Assault Unit is one of the newest units in the office. Prior to 2017, sexual assault cases were handled within the Trial Court Division and were assigned to various prosecutors in the office. The creation of the Sexual Assault Unit in 2018 has allowed these cases to be handled by a team of prosecutors and support staff who receive regular training in the area of sexual assault and who work closely with law enforcement and victim services to provide consistency and thoroughness in the investigation and prosecution of these cases.

In 2017, District Attorney Margaret Moore saw the need for coordination amongst law enforcement, prosecutors, forensic technicians, and victim advocate representatives to enhance the effectiveness with regard to the response, investigation, and prosecution of adult sexual assaults and to ensure that victim needs were being addressed. ISAT holds regular meetings where its participant's review, collect data, and share information about the dynamics of sexual assault offenses within the local community.

Participants in ISAT include:

  • Austin Police Department
  • APD Forensic Science Division
  • Cedar Park Police Department
  • Lakeway Police Department
  • Manor Police Department
  • Mustang Ridge Police Department
  • Pflugerville Police Department
  • Texas DPS Capital Area DNA Lab
  • The SAFE Alliance
  • Travis County Adult Probation
  • Travis County District Attorney’s Office
  • Travis County Sheriff’s Office
  • The University of Texas Police Department

DA Margaret Moore with Sheriff Sally Hernandez and Asst. Police Chief Troy Gay attending the ISAT Executive Committee meeting

DA Margaret Moore with Sheriff Sally Hernandez and Asst. Police Chief Troy Gay attending the ISAT Executive Committee meeting

UTPD Chief David Carter updating ISAT members about sexual assaults trends around the UT camp

UTPD Chief David Carter updating ISAT members about sexual assaults trends around the UT camp

isat members meeting

ISAT members meeting