"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.
A woman's death exposes an unorthodox method of treating cancer that Executive Assistant DA McCoy intends to prove is negligent homicide.
A comedy-club owner comes under suspicion for having shot his wife, now comatose with a bullet in her head, after it's discovered he was abusive and she was about to divorce him.
The killing of a Japanese nightclub owner who was visiting New York leads to the arrest of a singer who once worked for the deceased, and whose lawyer uses the "battered-woman syndrome" as a defense.
After it's determined that a wealthy woman did not commit suicide but was murdered, the detectives question both her first and second husbands and her teenage daughter.
A routine investigation uncovers evidence that leads Briscoe and Logan to a long-time fugitive, a radical Vietnam War opponent on the run since a 1971 burglary that left a policeman dead.
When Lt. Van Buren is the victim of an attempted holdup by two teens, she fires her gun and kills one of them, and the detectives are faced with the fact that she shot an unarmed child in the back.
When Briscoe and Logan suspect that a missing infant may have been murdered by her parents rather than kidnapped, they uncover a terrible family secret which hides a mentally ill serial killer.
McCoy uses a charge of "larceny by extortion" against a councilman, whose former colleague claims he demanded sex in exchange for a law-firm partnership.
Among the suspects in a lawyer's murder are a swindler, who conned a woman out of her family fortune, and the woman's once-wealthy son.
The killing of a man who had served as a juror in a mob trial leads to a battle of wills between McCoy and his long-time friend, the suspect's attorney.
After the body of a young female junkie is identified as the daughter of a wealthy family, Briscoe and Logan try to find out who left her to die in the yard of a day-care center.
The investigation into the killing of an abortion clinic doctor leads to an activist group led by a former priest.
A Wall Street broker accused of murdering his mentor uses the defense of "black rage" in court.
Briscoe and Logan set out to identify the apparent victim in a snuff film, but find her alive and really the victim of a points-for-sex club at her prestigious high school.
A routine investigation into a woman's death leads Briscoe and Logan to a fertility doctor guilty of unethical practices, but who cannot apparently be touched because of confidentiality rules, and patient reluctance to talk.
The shooting of a board member of an exclusive private school leads to a blue-collar family and a classist system.
A bomb at a construction site kills a 12-year-old boy, and the suspects include the bankrupt contractor and a jealous husband.
The investigation into a double murder leads to a young alcoholic whose family once lived in the victims' house and who had admitted to his AA group that he's had nightmares about killings.
The death of an autistic youth in custody reveals a multitude of unusual and possibly illegal therapies being used, but also parents reluctant to pursue a prosecution.
Logan relives unhappy childhood memories when a friend is found dead, a presumed suicide, until the investigation reveals recent contact with a former priest, with a history of pedophilia.
The investigation into a taxi driver's murder involves a loan shark, a forged check, a missing plumber and the victim's wife.
Suspects in a psychiatrist's murder include the victim's ex-husband, a patient suffering from multiple-personality disorder and her obstructive father.