"In the criminal justice system, the people are represented by two separate yet equally important groups. The police who investigate crime and the district attorneys who prosecute the offenders. These are their stories."
Filmed entirely on location in New York, the realistic program looks at crime and justice from a dual perspective. In the first half-hour, Detective Cyrus Lupo and his new partner, Detective Kevin Bernard, investigate crimes and apprehend suspects under the supervision of their precinct lieutenant, Anita Van Buren. In the second half-hour, the focus shifts to the criminal courts as Executive Assistant District Attorney Michael Cutter and the Assistant District Attorney Connie Rubirosa work within a complicated justice system to prosecute the accused under the guidance of the newly appointed District Attorney Jack McCoy.
While investigating the death of a teenaged girl, the detectives stumble on a pattern of crimes that indicate they are after a serial killer. The suspect, however, puts the prosecutors through an ethical ringer when he discloses his attorney's knowledge of the victims and their whereabouts.
The investigation into the murder of a bounty hunter leads to a reporter with compromised ethics and a dubious defense strategy.
The investigation into the carjacking of a vehicle containing vials of a deadly virus leads the detectives on a search for the first person infected with the virus and a biochemist whose sinister motivations were driven by passion.
The police and prosecutors investigate the connection between an award-winning songwriter and the young woman found murdered in his home to discover who would profit by her death at his hands.
A teenager's need for parental love, acceptance and recognition sets in motion the events leading to the deaths of 23 concert goers in a blaze started by a rock band's illegal pyrotechnics.
When a man is found murdered shortly after depositing almost $400,000 in his savings account, the investigation into the source of funds reveals that the victim ran an identity theft scam which left an elderly man homeless and impoverished.
The husband of a woman whose partially decomposed body is found floating in the Hudson River becomes the prime suspect in her murder until the prosecutors uncover a connection between her prospective attorney and a judge who has heard a suspiciously high number of his cases.
After a reporter accused of causing the deaths of soldiers with whom he was embedded in Iraq by reporting on their troop movements is shot and wounded on the eve of his return to the front, the ballistics report indicates that the gun belonged to one of the dead soldiers, leading the detectives to uncover who brought the gun back from the front and committed the crime.
When a con man passing himself off as a grief counselor is poisoned by a respected doctor he victimized, McCoy must determine whether revenge or insanity prompted the crime.
The owner of a clothing company with alien immigrant workers is found murdered which sends the detectives on a search for an unidentified evening caller whose girlfriend, also a worker in the factory, recently gave birth. Upon discovery that the victim was also the baby's father, the boyfriend is arrested with the motive being an office affair until the victim's widow discloses that it was a surrogate arrangement.
The apparent hit-and-run of a homeless man send the detectives on a search for the driver, a high profile female publicist, which fuels the fire for the prosecutors to obtain a murder conviction. Forensic evidence given during the trial reveal that the victim was severely beaten before being hit by the car which leads to a suspect within the homeless community.
The investigation into the murder of a former bookie turned mob informant reveals a disturbing new wrinkle in organized crime involving legitimate businessmen moonlighting as contract hitmen in a battle for mob leadership, and ends with a Federal ploy to nullify the plea bargain in the case, leaving McCoy seething and two more people dead.
The death of a woman who fell from a hotel balcony leads to a case involving a lesbian couple and a state law banning gay adoption
A city employee's clerical error sets in motion a chain of events which culminates in a fatal shooting at City Hall and a secret Federal court proceeding with sinister implications.
A decorated Gulf War veteran grief-stricken over the Afghanistan combat death of his son murders an anti-war protester, claiming at trial that he acted under extreme emotional distress.
McCoy faces an uphill battle in proving that witnesses to the murder of a drug mule were bribed, intimidated, and eventually murdered on the orders of the drug dealer accused of the crime.
When McCoy fails to win a murder conviction against an eccentric cross dressing millionaire for the death of his neighbor, he redoubles the effort to convict the man for murdering his second wife years earlier by demonstrating that he murdered a witness to the crime.
When a Holocaust survivor is murdered on the eve of her testimony in the deportation trial of a former concentration camp guard, McCoy prosecutes the man and the Neo-Nazi sympathizer who's running a fundraising web site for him, and must debunk a Holocaust denial defense which claims that the millions of deaths resulted from disease, pestilence and wartime conditions.
The District Attorney's Office is set on its ear when the investigation into the death of an A.D.A. uncovers a scandal that could imperil hundreds of cases.
Greed, treachery and disrespect shape the motives for murder when two men are gunned down at an exclusive restaurant.
The investigation into a bar room brawl fatality reveals a detective's decades-old vendetta against a petty criminal turned murderer who was falsely accused of one murder after evading conviction on another.
Van Buren has reservations about Branch's tactics in luring a Ginza nightclub owner back to New York after the Japanese government is unwilling to extradite him to face charges of conspiracy and murder in the death of his wife on a New York City vacation.
When a caviar importer is murdered the day after his wedding to a much-younger woman, the large pool of suspects includes his new wife, his children, and his chief competitor, each of whom has a compelling motive for committing the crime.