Special Prosecutions is responsible for criminal enforcement of a wide variety of economic and environmental-based crimes, as well as civil enforcement actions. Special Prosecutions is overseen by a chief deputy district attorney and encompasses several units which prosecute various “white collar” crimes including Consumer and Environmental Protection, Auto Insurance Fraud, Major Fraud, Real Estate Fraud, and Workers’ Compensation Fraud. Cases handled by these units often involve complex litigation, large volumes of documentary evidence, and sophisticated offenders adept at financial manipulation and deceit. The Juvenile, Sexual Assault and Family Protection, and Child Abduction Recovery units are managed within Special Prosecutions as well. The attorneys and professional staff utilize their varied expertise to carry out a broad array of functions within Special Prosecutions.
The District Attorney’s Office takes an active role in depriving drug dealers of ill-gotten gains associated with the sale of illegal drugs in Ventura County. Prosecution of civil narcotics asset forfeiture cases is conducted pursuant to California Health and Safety Code section 11470 et seq. Cases are submitted to this office by various law enforcement agencies involved in the investigation of suspected drug dealing. In addition to management and prosecution of these cases, a dedicated attorney provides training to Ventura County law enforcement personnel in asset forfeiture law and procedures. The Asset Forfeiture Unit’s goal is to ethically prosecute these cases and protect the rights of innocent owners in the process. Information regarding the assignment of civil forfeiture cases may be obtained from the Asset Forfeiture Unit at (805) 662-1709.
Perpetrators of auto insurance fraud utilize a variety of fraudulent schemes to illegally collect funds from insurance companies. Individuals may be victimized by staged accidents or repair shops performing incomplete or substandard work after a legitimate accident. Insurance companies and consumers suffer alike when unscrupulous people take out insurance policies after an accident and then falsely claim that it occurred after coverage began. Another ploy used by individuals who are behind in car payments, have excessive miles on a leased car, or who just need money will stage the theft of their own vehicle and then dump, damage or destroy the car in an effort to get insurance monies. No matter the nature of the fraud, consumers are ultimately harmed, as costs incurred due to fraud get passed along in the form of higher premiums. In Ventura County, a team of one attorney and one investigator specialize in vertically prosecuting these and other cases involving auto insurance fraud.
When a child is being wrongfully withheld or concealed from a person with a right of custody, the District Attorney’s Child Abduction and Recovery Unit seeks to act on behalf of the court to assist in the enforcement of custody and visitation orders. The District Attorney’s Office does not represent either parent or party and is not a substitute for private counsel.
Wrongfully concealing or withholding a child from someone with a right to custody or visitation can be a felony; however in most cases, the Child Recovery Unit will attempt to facilitate voluntary compliance with court orders, including the return of the child to the jurisdiction where the child was wrongfully removed from, regardless of where that may be. There are also specific provisions that apply to international cases.
To obtain more information, please visit the California Superior Court’s Family Law Self-Help Center website at: https://www.ventura.courts.ca.gov/self-help.html. Additional information regarding custody and visitation issues can be found here: https://www.courts.ca.gov/selfhelp-custody.htm.
For more information and assistance from the District Attorney’s Child Recovery Unit by telephone, please call (805) 662-1755. If a child is missing or believed to have been abducted by a stranger, immediately call 911.
Criminal misdemeanor violations of county ordinances and various California laws relating to the areas of weights and measures, building and safety, environmental health and general property maintenance are evaluated for prosecution by an experienced deputy district attorney. This attorney works with the Ventura County Resource Management Agency to coordinate enforcement for zoning, land use and building code violations occurring in unincorporated areas of Ventura County. Cases are generally submitted to this office for review through the Ventura County Resource Management Agency’s Planning, Environmental Health and Code Enforcement Divisions. Information regarding the assignment of a code enforcement criminal case being handled within the office may be obtained by calling the telephone number listed here (805) 662-1709.
In 2000, the Ventura County District Attorney’s Office joined other Southern California law enforcement agencies to create the Southern California High Technology Crime Task Force (SCHTTF). The Task Force is made up of investigators from the District Attorney’s Office, civilian computer forensic examiners and representatives from other law enforcement agencies. The SCHTTF provides highly technical support and forensic technology services for the District Attorney’s ever-growing number of cases involving digital evidence and provides specialized training to other law enforcement agencies and prosecutors. Hundreds of computers, data storage devices and cellular phones are analyzed annually by the SCHTTF. Digital evidence has proven crucial in the prosecution of capital murder cases, sexual assaults and other serious cases. Task Force personnel also work with law enforcement agencies to investigate and prosecute cases involving Internet crimes against children and other computer crimes.
The Consumer Protection Unit investigates and prosecutes civil and criminal cases to enforce laws protecting the public against unlawful, unfair, and fraudulent business practices and deceptive advertising. Attorneys in this unit also seek to increase public awareness of issues regarding consumers through presentations to schools, service clubs and other groups. Any inquiries or referrals about potential violations of consumer laws may be directed to unit staff at (805) 662-1750.
The Consumer Mediation Unit staff attempt to resolve disputes between businesses and consumers on a wide range of issues. Mediation is a way for parties to reach a mutually agreed upon resolution to a dispute without the need to go to court or hire an attorney. There is no charge to either party to use mediation to settle a dispute. The information obtained through mediation is kept confidential. Although not permitted to give legal advice, the staff in Consumer Mediation are trained to assist the public in the following areas:
- Answering general questions about consumers’ rights and consumer protection laws;
- Recommending or making referrals to other governmental agencies with proper jurisdiction over the complaint or inquiry;
- Mediating disputes between consumers and businesses, as well as tenants and landlords; and
- Distributing information to consumers about issues.
Mediations are conducted by telephone, e-mail and letters. There is no need to schedule or attend a meeting to resolve a dispute. Neither party is bound to accept an offer to settle a case in mediation. Any resolution is agreed upon by all parties. Allegations of criminal conduct made by either party are not investigated in the mediation process. When appropriate, referrals to other consumer protection agencies are offered as well. Assistance from the Consumer Mediation Unit is available from 8:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m., and 1:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m., Monday through Friday. To speak with a mediator in Ventura or Simi Valley, please call (805) 654-3110 (Ventura) or (805) 306-7930 (Simi Valley).
The enforcement of California’s environmental laws is essential to protect human health, the environment, and the state and local economies. Fair and uniform enforcement of rules and regulations governing the environment benefits law abiding businesses, individuals, and improves the quality of life in our community.
Deputy District Attorneys assigned to the Environmental Protection Unit prosecute businesses and individuals who violate environmental laws and workplace safety in Ventura County. We are committed to protecting the environment and work closely with agencies tasked with achieving and enforcing environmental regulatory compliance and protecting aquatic life in our local streambeds as well as the Channel Islands and Ventura Harbors.
Offenders under 18 years of age at the time of the offense are typically handled by the district attorney’s Juvenile Unit. The goal of the Juvenile Unit’s staff is protection of the community while also rehabilitating delinquent minors through informal and formal sanctions. In addition to the review and prosecution of criminal cases in Juvenile Court, the attorneys also participate in specialized rehabilitation and prevention programs including Juvenile Drug Court, Recovery Classroom, as well as the “THRIVE” (Truancy Habits Reduced Increases Vital Education) program aimed at eliminating truancies.
Cases are referred to the District Attorney’s Office by the Ventura County Probation Agency. Law Enforcement agencies send cases involving minors directly to the Probation Agency who refers cases to the District Attorney’s Office for review. In cases of minor or first time offenders, the Probation Agency’s Youth Services team may elect to provide informal intervention without referral to the District Attorney’s Office. To determine whether a juvenile case is being handled by Youth Services, please call their office at (805) 973-5100. For all other questions regarding juvenile cases and their assignment, please contact the Juvenile Unit of the District Attorney’s Office at (805) 981-5860.
Major fraud or “white collar” crimes are some of the most complex cases prosecuted in the criminal justice system. Major Fraud Unit attorneys and investigators often conduct lengthy investigations into fraudulent transactions involving insurance companies, banking institutions, owners of real estate, and investors in corporate securities. Investigations may involve substantial documents, forensic accounting, forensic computer analysis, and complex legal issues. These cases often involve individual victims as well as businesses that may have suffered millions of dollars in losses. Prosecutors and investigators may coordinate enforcement actions with officials from the Department of Corporations, the Employment Development Department, the State Franchise Tax Board, the Federal Bureau of Investigations, and other agencies to form specialized teams, using the latest technology and asset forfeiture procedures to investigate, prosecute and recoup restitution for victims of these sophisticated criminal enterprises. Inquiries or referrals about major fraud cases may be directed to District Attorney’s Office staff at (805) 662-1750.
Fueled by the real estate boom and bust of the last decade, unscrupulous real estate practitioners and fly-by-night criminal enterprises began preying upon the Hispanic community, the elderly and an increasingly desperate public seeing their home values decline. In 2005, the District Attorney’s Office created the Real Estate Fraud Prosecution Program to address the rise of real estate and mortgage fraud sweeping the nation and Ventura County.
The Real Estate Fraud Unit is dedicated to deterring, investigating, and prosecuting real estate fraud. Prosecutors and investigators work closely with the Ventura County Real Estate Fraud Awareness Team (REFAT) click here, comprised of real estate professionals, to educate industry professionals and the general public about real estate crime. Investigators and prosecutors also work closely with other law enforcement agencies, including the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Internal Revenue Service, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, and the Housing and Urban Development Office’s Inspector General.
The Real Estate Fraud Unit accepts complaints directly from the public and the complaint form is available here or may be obtained from the District Attorney’s Office staff who are available during regular business hours. The Real Estate Fraud Unit’s telephone and fax numbers are (805) 662-1750 or fax (805) 662-1770. For the office location, click here.
A Small Claims Advisor is available to help you free of charge at both Small Claims Courts in Ventura County. The Ventura Court is located at the Government Center in the Hall of Justice at 800 South Victoria Avenue, Ventura, CA 93009. Small Claims cases are heard in Ventura at 8:15 a.m. on Mondays, Tuesdays, and Fridays. The Simi Valley Court is located at 3855-F Alamo Street, Simi Valley, CA 93063. Small Claims cases are heard in Simi Valley on Mondays.
The Small Claims Advisor can answer your questions and assist in completing the necessary court forms. Our hours are from 8:00 a.m. until 12:00 p.m. and from 1:00 p.m. until 5:00 p.m., Monday through Friday. No appointment is necessary to speak with an advisor in person, however assistance is provided on a first-come, first-served basis. For more information or help with any of the Small Claims Court forms, please call the Small Claims Advisor in Ventura or Simi Valley at (805) 654-5054 (Ventura) or (805) 306-7930 (Simi Valley).
A Small Claims Advisor can also assist if you are a victim of a “bad check” or a non-sufficient-funds (NSF) check. There are potential criminal or civil penalties depending on the circumstances. The goal of the Small Claims Advisor is to assist businesses, merchants and individuals in recovering their losses due to bad-checks.
More information about the Small Claims Court process may be found in our Publications by clicking here.
The District Attorney’s Office participates in a county-wide truancy reduction program called Truancy Habits Reduced Increases Vital Education (THRIVE). The schools have programs set up to telephone parents each time a minor is absent from school. If a pattern of truancy emerges, a series of three letters are generated to inform parents of their responsibilities and legal ramifications of non-compliance. The student and parent are invited to a conference at the school to discuss the matter. If truancy continues, the student and parent are referred to a School Attendance Review Board (SARB) meeting to discuss the causes of the truancy as well as potential solutions. Every effort is made to come to a resolution that ends truancy. SARBs are active in all school districts across the county and consist of educators, mental health professionals, public health nurses, community based organizations, probation officers, and police officers. Deputy district attorneys from the Juvenile Unit also participate in the SARB meetings. In some cases students, parents, or both may receive a citation for violating the Education Code’s school attendance requirements. At this stage, court intervention is also utilized to end truancy through fines or potential dismissal of charges upon proof of satisfactory attendance. Overall, THRIVE serves as a model juvenile delinquency prevention program since it has proven to be quite effective in reducing truancy within Ventura County.
The Workers’ Compensation Fraud Unit actively investigates and prosecutes crimes involving employees who knowingly make misrepresentations to obtain workers’ compensation benefits to which they are not entitled, or employers who knowingly deny valid workers’ compensation benefits to their employees. Employers and insurance companies that suspect fraudulent claims report cases to the Department of Insurance for investigation which refers cases to the unit’s prosecutors and investigators. Other cases are initiated from undercover investigations into workers’ compensation fraud mills involving unscrupulous attorneys, doctors, and insurance agents.
Workers’ compensation fraud causes honest employers to incur increased operating costs due to higher premiums in today’s challenging economic climate. This higher cost of doing business is passed directly to consumers in the form of higher prices for goods and services. Moreover, honest workers who are genuinely injured face delays in receiving benefits because of the closer scrutiny their claims receive. Workers’ compensation fraud prevents healthy economic growth and jeopardizes the integrity of the workers’ compensation system. The Workers’ Compensation Fraud Unit accepts complaints directly from the public and the complaint form is available here, or may be obtained from the District Attorney’s Office staff who are available during regular business hours. The Workers’ Compensation Unit’s telephone number is (805) 662-1750, or fax (805) 662-1770. For the office location, click here.