General Prosecutions cover the following units and crimes:
One deputy district attorney handles all of the car theft and carjacking cases that are submitted to the District Attorney’s Office. This attorney is responsible for reviewing and filing cases submitted by law enforcement agencies. Cases are handled vertically from filing through sentencing, meaning these cases are assigned to the auto theft prosecutor for all purposes once the case is submitted for review. This deputy district attorney works closely with local law enforcement agencies through the Ventura Auto Theft Task Force (VENCATT). This collaborative effort provides the most effective means to prosecute these cases and meet the needs of people who are victimized by these types of crimes.
The District Attorney’s Office is committed to increasing public safety on Ventura County’s streets and highways by ensuring that all persons who drive under the influence of alcohol or drugs are held accountable for their actions. In accordance with the District Attorney’s Office policy, Ventura County prosecutors do not offer plea bargains, such as a “wet reckless” charge, in driving under the influence cases. Since 2007, the District Attorney’s Office has prosecuted an average of 4,877 driving under the influence cases per year.
The District Attorney’s Office receives grant monies from the Office of Traffic Safety to fund a team of two seasoned prosecutors who handle all driving under the influence of drugs and felony driving under the influence of alcohol cases. These felonies include driving under the influence of alcohol resulting in injury and alcohol-related vehicular manslaughter cases. In addition to reviewing and litigating these challenging cases, these attorneys engage in community outreach and extensive training of local law enforcement personnel.
A designated prosecutor within the Sexual Assault Family Protection Unit works with law enforcement agencies to investigate and prosecute crimes perpetrated against elders in our communities. These crimes may include physical and emotional abuse, neglect, identity theft, and financial abuse. The unit focuses on elderly victims of crime, which by statute is defined as someone 65 years of age or older, so as to accommodate their needs and concerns. The assigned deputy district attorney works closely with Adult Protective Services, Area Agency on Aging, police departments and senior community groups to raise awareness of crimes against elders and assist in the recognition, investigation and prosecution of offenders. This attorney also presents to local senior groups to raise awareness of these crimes and address related issues that may affect elders in our community.
Law enforcement agencies in Ventura County have joined the District Attorney’s Office in our joint effort to thoroughly investigate and prosecute all crimes of domestic violence. In accordance with our protocol, police are trained in proper methods for investigating these cases so that all available evidence is gathered in a timely manner. This may include obtaining recorded statements of witnesses, photographs, documentation of all injuries, and securing other evidence. Due to the challenging nature of proving domestic violence charges in court, these cases are assigned to and handled vertically by deputy district attorneys in the Sexual Assault/Family Protection Unit.
For Sexual Assault click here
Human trafficking is a form of modern-day slavery where people profit from the control and exploitation of others. As defined under U.S. federal law, victims of human trafficking include children involved in the sex trade, adults who are coerced or deceived into commercial sex acts, and anyone forced into different forms of “labor or services” such as domestic workers held in a home, or farm-workers forced to labor against their will. Human trafficking is a felony.
For more information, see our page on Human Trafficking
Cases involving defendants who are severely mentally ill and dangerous are handled by a prosecutor who specializes in these types of cases. Some of these offenders are found not guilty by reason of insanity (NGRI) for crimes charged against them and receive treatment in locked psychiatric hospitals such as Patton State Hospital. They are not released into the public unless they are restored to competency and are deemed to no longer pose a danger to the community.
Other offenders that have been convicted of an underlying violent offense who are deemed severely mentally ill and dangerous at the end of their regular prison commitment may be ordered to remain in a locked facility. These mentally ill offenders are provided further treatment by California Department of Corrections medical staff consistent with court orders.
Sexually violent predators are people who have been convicted of a sexually violent crime against one or more victims and who have been diagnosed with a mental disorder making it likely they will engage in sexually violent criminal behavior. Those offenders who are found by a jury to meet the legal definition of a sexually violent predator are committed for an indeterminate term to a locked facility for treatment unless and until they are deemed safe to be released.
The vast majority of the criminal prosecutions of misdemeanor offenses are handled within the Misdemeanor Unit. These crimes include driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, theft, being under the influence of controlled substances, battery, resisting arrest and many others. Over 10,000 cases a year are prosecuted by the Misdemeanor Unit. Misdemeanor cases are typically submitted by local law enforcement agencies for review by prosecutors who then file charges as appropriate. At the initial court date for arraignment, copies of the complaint and police reports will be available to defense counsel or a defendant without an attorney and a calendar deputy district attorney will inform defense counsel of the recommended disposition. Once a misdemeanor case is set for trial, it is assigned to a deputy district attorney. Questions about cases should be directed to the assigned attorney, since calendar attorneys generally do not depart from recommended case dispositions. The name and telephone number of the assigned attorney may be obtained by calling the misdemeanor records desk at 805-654-3118
Crimes involving sexual assault, whether by fear, force or other means, are among the most serious cases handled by the District Attorney’s Office. Such crimes include statutory rape, child molestation and numerous forcible and other sex crimes that may be punishable by lengthy prison sentences. The Sexual Assault/Family Protection Unit handles all misdemeanor and felony sexual assault, physical child abuse, elder abuse, victims with disabilities, sexual offender registrants, and domestic violence cases.
Cases involving sexual assault and domestic violence crimes are assigned by the unit supervisor in a vertical prosecution format. This means an individual deputy district attorney is assigned to each case from the point when law enforcement completes their investigation through all hearings, trial and sentencing. Unit attorneys receive specialized training to reduce the anxiety and uncertainty crime victims, especially children, have about the criminal justice process.
In this unit, deputy district attorneys work as a team with an investigator and a victim advocate. The investigator ensures all evidence is obtained and assists attorneys with properly preparing witnesses for trial. The victim advocate is the primary liaison between the victim and the prosecution team, keeping the victim informed of the progress of the case and pending court dates. As part of this process, assigned deputy district attorneys are available to meet with victims of crime. The prosecution team seeks to make the court experience more understandable and tolerable for each victim. The assigned deputy district attorney is ultimately responsible for presenting the case in court after assessing legal issues which may impact the likelihood of obtaining a conviction.