CRIMINAL PROSECUTIONS

The prosecution section of the district attorney’s office is what most people are familiar with when it comes to understanding our mission. Simply put, this is our core function; to hold people, businesses, and organizations accountable when they commit criminal violations of the law.

The district attorney is the public prosecutor and has the mandated responsibility to prosecute crimes committed within San Bernardino County, including all city jurisdictions, pursuant to California Government Code Section 26500.

Additionally, the district attorney’s office provides legal assistance for criminal investigations conducted by law enforcement agencies throughout the county.

The office is the legal advisor to the grand jury and is authorized to submit evidence and seek indictments from the grand jury.

The office initiates civil commitment petitions to keep mentally disordered offenders and sexually violent predators in locked facilities. It employs civil proceedings in asset forfeiture matters to seek the proceeds of criminal activity, as well as to seek sanctions and injunctive relief against businesses that pollute or create dangerous conditions for employees and citizens.

Deputy district attorneys review, prepare, and present criminal cases in court for property crimes such as thefts, burglaries, and vandalism to person crimes, such as fighting, assault with a deadly weapon case, and homicides.

SPECIALIZED PROSECUTION UNITS

The San Bernardino County District Attorney’s Office has created specialized prosecution units for crimes requiring special knowledge and experience when pursuing after the prosecution of individuals.

This group represents the district attorney’s office in all appellate courts and provides the legal research and training support for the entire district attorney’s office.

The unit appeals wrongful dismissals, helps secure and maintain the admissibility of incriminating evidence, and researches and answers legal questions for trial prosecutors and county police agencies. Since the Unit’s inception in 1996, it has rescued dozens of serious criminal prosecutions that otherwise might have been dismissed. This unit has become the Office’s authoritative resource on criminal law and procedure.

Other duties include coordinating and expanding legal education for both the attorney and support staff, as well as law enforcement agencies within the County of San Bernardino.

In recognition of the Link between animal cruelty and family violence, the Animal Cruelty Prosecution Unit (ACPU) will be part of the Family Violence Unit and will consist of:

  • A Chief Deputy District Attorney (ACPU-CDDA)
  • A Supervising Deputy District Attorney (ACPU-SDDA) who supervises a Family Violence Unit
  • A Lead Deputy District Attorney (Lead ACPU Prosecutor)
  • Two regional Deputy District Attorneys (Regional ACPU Prosecutors) specially designated to handle select ACPU cases as needed
  • Two regional Juvenile Division Deputy District Attorneys (Juvenile ACPU Prosecutors)
  • A Senior Investigator from the District Attorney’s Bureau of Investigation.

Combined with the Organized Automobile Insurance Fraud Interdiction Unit, these two units combine to investigate and prosecute automobile insurance fraud committed by policyholders such as driver switching, staged accidents, cases where the vehicle owners arrange to have their cars stolen or burned to claim insurance benefits; instances in which insurance brokers embezzle premiums, and cases where medical and legal service providers commit billing fraud.

The work of the child abduction unit focuses on protecting the custody and visitation rights of parents and legal guardians.

  • Assists law enforcement and other agencies in locating and recovering children who have been taken, withheld or concealed from a parent or legal guardian.
  • Acts on behalf of the superior court to enforce custody and visitation orders when a child is taken, withheld or concealed by a party to a custody proceeding.
  • Prosecutes cases of criminal child abduction.

On a routine basis, the unit partners with courts and law enforcement throughout the United States to recover abducted children who are carried across state lines.

In cases of international child abduction, the unit implements the terms of the Hague Convention, an international treaty signed by more than 60 countries. This effort involves a working relationship with the U.S. State Department, the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, and the Attorney General of California, in helping to recover children taken to or from foreign lands.

The San Bernardino County District Attorney’s Office is dedicated to the pursuit of justice in each and every homicide case that is investigated, reviewed, or filed by this office. To that end, the cold case unit works in conjunction with various law enforcement agencies to review unsolved homicide cases for the purpose of identifying, apprehending, and prosecuting those individuals who commit murder.

A case turns “cold,” when the investigation hits a dead end and there are no longer any leads for investigators to follow. Some of these cases involve suspects who were previously identified and a warrant was issued but they have managed to elude investigators most often by fleeing the area and obtaining a new identity.

The primary goals of the cold case unit are to give answers and closure to the families and friends of those murdered victims along with the people of San Bernardino County.

In California, there is no statute of limitations (a time limit in which a crime must be prosecuted) on a murder case.

In order for our unit to open a cold case investigation, the murder must have occurred within the county of San Bernardino (there are very rare exceptions to this requirement). Additionally, the suspect must be alive. The suspect must not have been previously prosecuted and acquitted of the charges and there must not be a legitimate reason or excuse for the killing (self-defense, accident, etc.).

The San Bernardino County Specialized Prosecutions Group (SPG) investigates and/or prosecutes cases that involve Consumer Fraud, Environmental Crime, and Workplace Fatalities.

In most instances, the fraud or crime is first reported to the local Police, County Sheriff or other Agency charged with enforcement of the laws or regulations suspected of being broken. See our “Frequently Asked Questions” section for links to instructions on how and where to report violations of consumer law, environmental crime or industrial accidents/fatalities.

CONSUMER FRAUD

Consumer fraud in many cases will involve Unfair Business Practices. We review and investigate complaints that involve unlawful, unfair or fraudulent business acts or practices as well as any unfair, deceptive untrue or misleading advertising

Remember to put down all of your personal contact information so that we can reach you to follow up. To report that type of unfair business practice, please download and fill out this form. The district attorney reviews and evaluates cases received from other agencies to determine whether to prosecute a business or person for an unlawful or unfair business practice. Enforcement options include criminal prosecution, or filing of civil lawsuits. The remedies sought by the district attorney are designed to make right what has been wronged, and can include court orders to immediately stop the unfair business practice, and sometimes to pay fines or penalties, and if possible restitution to the victims of the unfair practices. The goal of such remedies is to protect the consumer and other businesses from injurious unlawful or unfair practices.

ENVIRONMENTAL CRIME

The district attorney also prosecutes those complex crimes which harm the environment. Environmental crimes involve statutes and regulations designed to protect the environment as well as the health and welfare of the citizens. These types of cases can include violations of laws regulating the handling, storage and disposal of hazardous waste and materials as well as air and water pollution.

The district attorney often collaborates with local, state and federal government agencies to address environmental issues, and investigate those issues that are crimes. We will prosecute to the fullest those who gain unfair advantage over their competitors and hurt the environment by not following the rules and laws that are adhered to by the legitimate businesses.

As with the consumer protection cases, the remedies sought can be had through either criminal cases where people can be sentenced to jail or prison, or civil lawsuits. The remedies for environmental harm can include cleanup of the hazardous substances, financial penalties and fines, and court orders for protective measures designed to prevent the environmental harm from occurring again.

INDUSTRIAL/WORKPLACE INJURY OR FATALITIES

Nobody goes to work to die. The district attorney follows that truth to address those tragic accidents that substantially injure or cause the death of someone who just wanted to work. Working in conjunction with the Department of Industrial Relations Division of Occupational Safety and Health (OSHA,) the district attorney evaluates reports of workplace injuries and fatality. The District Attorney’s Bureau of Investigations (B of I) is an “on call 24/7” agency when it comes to workplace safety. The B of I, along with OSHA investigators, will roll out to job sites and work places when a substantial injury or fatality occurs.

It is the goal of the district attorney to encourage employers and businesses to follow safe practices for their employees to ensure their continued production and contribution to the San Bernardino County. Whenever someone is hurt or killed due to violations of workplace safety regulations, the district attorney will investigate and prosecute those cases where the employer/business didn’t follow the rules.

Remedies sought by the district attorney for workplace law violations can be achieved through either criminal filings against business or those responsible for the injury/death, or civil lawsuits against those responsible parties. The district attorney will seek to impose substantial civil or criminal (or both) consequences on those businesses who profiteer and cut corners to save time and money by disregarding worker safety.

In order for a conviction to qualify for review by the San Bernardino County District Attorney’s Office, the case and defendant must meet the following criteria:

  • The conviction must have occurred in the San Bernardino County Superior Court and;
  • The request for review must be based on new, credible, and material evidence of actual innocence.

Criminals who assault peace officers represent a threat not only to the officer, but also to the safety of the entire community, and to the foundations of our criminal justice system. However, the culture of the criminal justice system has at times failed to treat law enforcement officer victims with the consideration and attention they deserve.

A study by the Violence Against Law Enforcement Officer Research Center (VALOR) revealed several problems common to criminal justice systems including an attitude by some that an officer being assaulted or abused is “just part of the job,” felony crimes against peace officers being issued as misdemeanors, crimes against peace officers being the first charges to be dropped in plea bargaining, cases being settled without the officer’s knowledge or input, and peace officer victims not receiving the same victim services as civilian victims.

The Crimes Against Peace Officers (CAPO) Prosecution Unit has been created to change this culture in our criminal justice system and ensure that we are doing everything possible to deter, prosecute, and punish those who attack, threaten, or interfere with our law enforcement officers.

This unit consists of attorneys, clerical staff members, investigators, and victim/witness advocates, all of whom are trained to deal with traumatic and sensitive crimes to especially vulnerable victims.

The unit maximizes all available resources and expertise to better ensure that every effective legal remedy is brought to bear on those who victimize our children and elderly, and those who commit violent acts within our families.

Cases handled by this unit often involve sensitive familial issues, including embarrassment and a reluctance to having personal issues become public, and the situations require dedication and understanding for the most vulnerable members of our community. With the team approach, these cases can be given special attention and handled by trained, experienced professionals who appreciate the complex legal and emotional issues involved within these often difficult cases, who work together to achieve the best results.

The attorneys selected to serve in this unit have trial experience and have previously handled crimes handled by this unit, including sexual abuse, elder financial abuse, crimes against children and domestic violence. The team is committed to working closely with law enforcement, children’s services and the medical community to maintain an organized, focused approach to the successful prosecution of sexual, physical/endangerment and financial abuse cases.

As the population in the county grows, so do the number of serious crimes that require more specialized attorneys to be able to handle all aspects of family violence cases and devote the time and effort needed for each special case.

It is the purpose and goal of the family violence unit to provide outstanding service to the victims of personal and life-altering crimes and their families and to ensure that justice is served for the safety of our citizens.

Prosecuting gang crime is a high priority for the San Bernardino County District Attorney’s Office. Studies show that about 60% of all homicides in the county are gang related. Gang members prey on people and foster fear and intimidation in the community. It is an important mission of the district attorney’s office to vigilantly pursue criminal charges against gang members to keep our communities safe.

The attorneys assigned to this unit are specially trained prosecutors who seek gang-enhanced charges whenever possible, which increases the penalty against the offenders, and keeps them out of our communities for a longer period of time. By closely monitoring gang offenders’ performance on probation, gang prosecutors ensure that repeat offenders go to state prison.

The human trafficking prosecution unit attacks the problem of human trafficking and commercial sexual exploitation by prosecuting the perpetrators to the fullest extent of the law, including obtaining the enhanced prison sentences provided for in California Proposition 35 – The “Californians Against Sexual Exploitation Act.”

The motive for human trafficking is financial profit, therefore effective punishment and deterrence requires that the perpetrators be deprived of their ill-gotten financial gains. The unit will seek to civilly forfeit all the money obtained by the perpetrators as a result of their crime.

Successful prosecution of the traffickers requires the testimony and cooperation of the victims of this crime, who themselves are frequently arrested for misdemeanor prostitution. To maximize the opportunity to identify, investigate, and successfully prosecute their traffickers, the unit also oversees and coordinates these misdemeanor prostitution cases. Our office views and treats victims of human trafficking as victims, and not as criminals. Coordination of these cases improve our ability to identify and provide services to the victims of human trafficking.

Human trafficking cannot exist without customers, which are commonly referred to as “Johns,” as well as others who provide the commercial market for this exploitation. Our unit will develop new and effective ways to sentence “johns,” to deter them and others from becoming customers of commercial sexual exploitation.

The crimes of human trafficking and commercial sexual exploitation remain hidden in our community and are significantly under-reported to law enforcement. The unit works closely with the San Bernardino County Coalition Against Sexual Exploitation, as well as with local law enforcement, school districts, and non-governmental victim-support agencies. The goal is to ensure that no case of human trafficking or sexual exploitation goes unreported to law enforcement.

Special expertise is needed to investigate and prosecute these crimes. Members of our unit attend special training, and keep current with the latest trends in this crime.

Our unit pursues after human traffickers and commercial sexual exploiters, while at the same time providing a “victim-centered” approach to this problem.

The Juvenile Division consists of two separate offices that service a juvenile court in two locations in San Bernardino County. They are Victorville and San Bernardino.

All crimes committed by persons under the age of 18 are handled by one of these two offices unless it is an extremely serious crime in which case it can go directly to the adult offices. The goal of this office is to assist minors in correcting their current course of conduct and to help them become productive members of society.

The Juvenile court is mandated by law to seek the rehabilitation of the minors and return them to their families.  That mandate means that the District Attorney’s Juvenile Division is involved in many programs to assist in the rehabilitation of minors.

Prosecutors assigned to the Lifer Parole Unit represent the District Attorney before the Board of Parole Hearings when it considers the suitability for parole of individuals that have been sentenced to life terms in the Department of Corrections for crimes committed in San Bernardino County.

These hearings are held at various state prisons located throughout the State or by video or telephone conference.

If attendance in person or video conference is not possible, the District Attorney submits our comments to the Board of Parole Hearings by letter.

Marsy’s Law Provides Specific Rights to Victims and Next of Kin regarding Parole Hearings:

To be informed of all parole procedures, to participate in the parole process, to provide information to the parole authority to be considered before the parole of the offender, and to be notified, upon request, of the parole or other release of the offender.

The San Bernardino County District Attorney’s Office is committed to protecting our most helpless victims, our children, from serious injury and death, and prosecuting those who commit these horrible crimes to the fullest extent of the law. Creation of the Major Crimes Against Children Unit will ensure that we continue to achieve that goal.

Seriously injured child victims and their families have significant needs for support from the District Attorney’s Office during the prosecution of their case. Sometimes the child victims are placed in foster care resulting in the need for even more victim advocate involvement and support. The Major Crimes Against Children Unit will utilize a two-pronged approach to providing victim advocate services.

The first prong involves utilization of victim advocates currently in place at the Children’s Assessment Center (CAC) and Arrowhead Regional Medical Center. Because of their presence at these locations, these victim advocates will often be the first member of the MCAC Unit to have contact with the victim and their family, and can provide immediate services and assistance.

The second prong involves the victim advocates located in each of our branch DA’s offices. These advocates will provide follow-up services, court support, and work closely with the assigned MCAC Unit prosecutor. Together, this two-pronged approach will ensure that all child victims and their families receive enhanced victim advocate services.

The MCAC Unit shall handle any case in which great bodily injury or death is inflicted on a child victim 12 years of age or younger. This includes, but is not limited to:

  • Murder
  • Assault On A Child Causing Death
  • Torture
  • Mayhem
  • Any other felony where a special allegation of infliction of great bodily injury under PC 12022.7, or PC 12022.8, or PC12022.95 is charged and the victim is 12 years of age or younger

The San Bernardino County District Attorney’s Office’s Public Integrity Unit is responsible for investigating and prosecuting elected and appointed public officials who criminally benefit from their position of public trust or who violate criminal law in connection with their public position. 

Examples include Brown Act Violations, Misuse or Misappropriation of Public Funds (Pen. Code, § 424), Election & Campaign Violations, Embezzlement, Bribery, Fraud, Extortion, Conflicts of Interest (Gov. Code, § 1090), and Residency Issues. We do not handle non-criminal ethical breaches or civil disputes.

If you wish to submit a complaint regarding a crime by a public official in connection with his or her public position, you must download, complete and mail a complaint form to our office. All forms must be completed in their entirety, and you must sign the form to initiate a review by our office.

You cannot rely on hunches, rumors, gossip, newspaper accounts, or other hearsay.

QUESTIONS?

If you have questions, please call our unit at (909) 382-7609

FORM

After completing and signing the form, please mail it to:

San Bernardino County District Attorney
Attention: Public Integrity Unit
303 West 3rd Street, 5th Floor
San Bernardino, CA 92415-0511

The San Bernardino County District Attorney’s Office maintains a real estate fraud unit (REF) dedicated to investigating and criminally prosecuting individuals and businesses for fraudulent activity surrounding real estate.

The District Attorney’s Sexually Violent Predator unit files civil lawsuits to acquire court orders placing convicted mentally ill sexually violent predators in secured state mental hospitals for treatment after their prison sentences have concluded. These individuals have committed prior predatory sexually violent crimes in the past, have a present mental illness and are a high risk to commit future sexually violent crimes. Sexually violent crimes include rape and child molestation.

The District Attorney’s Mentally Disordered Offender Unit files civil lawsuits to acquire court orders placing individuals convicted of violent crimes, who have a current mental illness and pose a high risk of committing future violent crimes in secured state mental hospitals for treatment after their prison sentences have concluded.

The welfare fraud unit criminally prosecutes individuals who commit fraud in order to get, expand, or keep public assistance benefits that they would not otherwise be entitled to receive.

The District Attorney prosecutes fraud in the CAlWorks (cash aid), CalFresh (EBT/food stamps), child care, welfare to work and in home support services programs. These prosecutions include perjury in applications, failure to disclose income, fraudulently claiming dependents and fraudulently claiming eligibility for assistance.

The San Bernardino County District Attorney Workers’ Compensation Insurance Fraud Unit investigates and prosecutes insurance fraud. It does not handle individual workers’ compensation claims.

Learn more about the types of fraud we investigate and a list of frequently asked questions on our Workers’ Compensation Insurance Fraud page.