The criminal division receives information from citizens, and law enforcement officers, who suspect that a California law has been violated. If a citizen reports a crime an evaluation is made to determine if a crime was in fact committed, and if need be, the citizen is referred to the appropriate law enforcement agency who will investigate the crime. In some cases, when deemed appropriate, the matter is assigned to an investigator within the District Attorney's Office. The officer's written report of the investigation is processed and then given to one of the Attorneys in the office for review. The attorney, representing the People of the State of California, will review the case and determine if in fact a California law has been violated, and/or whether or not the case should;
- be returned to the submitting officer, or agency, for further investigation,
- be submitted to an investigator in the District Attorney's Office for further investigation,
- be returned to the submitting agency with no action taken, or
- have a criminal complaint filed against an individual, or individuals, for a violation, or violations, of California law.
Misdemeanor Criminal Complaints are filed by the District Attorney, or his Deputies. Complaints are filed in Municipal Court. Misdemeanors are cases where the penalty is a year or less in the County Jail, a $1,000 fine, or both by fine and imprisonment. The District Attorney, or his Deputies, represent the People of the State of California in these matters until the case is adjudicated.
If a Felony is charged the complaint is also filed in the Municipal Court. A Judge will then hear the case to determine if there is a sufficient amount of evidence to hold the individual to answer to the charge(s) in Superior Court. If the Municipal Court Judge holds the individual is held to answer to the charge(s) the case proceeds to Superior Court. At that point the District Attorney, or his Deputy, will file an Information (similar to a complaint) against the individual in Superior Court.
Felonies are cases where the penalty is incarceration in the State Prison, or a fine in excess of $1,000, or both by fine and imprisonment. The District Attorney, or his Deputies, represent the People of the State of California in these matters until the case is adjudicated in Superior Court. If an appeal is filed the Attorney General of the State of California represents the People of the State.
California law does not allow the District Attorney, nor his Deputies, to give advice in civil matters, with the exception of the Child Support cases, which he is required to pursue.