District Attorney's Office (2510P)

Program Outcome Statement

The District Attorney's Office seeks justice for victims of crime and accountability for all who violate the law.

Program Services

  • Criminal Prosecution
  • Investigations
  • Victim Services

Overview

The District Attorney’s Office reviews all requests for prosecution of felonies and misdemeanors in San Mateo County with the goal of holding offenders accountable for their criminal conduct. For those cases in which charges are filed, the District Attorney’s Office handles the prosecution in court, provides witness assistance, conducts follow-up investigation, recommends appropriate punishment and seeks full restitution to the victims of the criminal conduct. In the course of seeking justice in criminal cases, the District Attorney’s Office collaborates with the superior court and our criminal justice partners to obtain, in appropriate cases, alternative sentences for certain offenders in an effort to reduce recidivism and victimization of our community.

Average Cost per Case Increasing

Number of Cases Reviewed and Prosecuted Decreasing

Victim Services Survey Results Increasing

FY 2017-18 Story Behind Performance

With the passage of Proposition 47 in November of 2014, we noted that the predicted reduction in the number of cases we would file as felony violations did in fact occur. A wide array of drug or theft offenses which previously had been charged as felonies were converted to misdemeanor-only offenses. In the ensuing years, we have tracked the impact Prop 47 has had on our filings. After noting a significant decline in felony filings beginning in 2015, the total number of felony filings (adult and juvenile) increased slightly in FY 2016-17 and has remained steady (2429 in 2016-17, 2366 in 2017-18).
The prosecution of homicide cases in 2018 remains a focus of the District Attorney’s Office.  The year, to date, brought four newly filed cases, three of which were against two defendants each, bringing the total number of pending cases to 22 and the total number of defendants to 28.   The cases include a cold-case from 1976 solved through DNA testing, the last pending trial from the Sunny Day gang prosecutions and several cases where the identification of the defendants were due to  the use of surveillance cameras.  In the last year, five cases proceeded to jury trial, ranging from Sunny Day gang prosecutions, a domestic violence murder and a driving under the influence murder against a defendant with multiple prior DUIs.  In 2018, our office will continue to devote the necessary time, effort and resources to these challenging cases.
Serving victims of crime continues to be an important focus within our office. Our Victim Services Division provides supportive services and information to victims of crime in San Mateo County, whether or not the case is prosecuted by our office. Our Victim Advocates provide comprehensive services to victims of crime including crisis intervention, support throughout the criminal justice process, assistance with requesting criminal restitution orders and assistance with the California Victim Compensation Program.   In calendar year 2017 our Victim Services Division provided comprehensive services to more than 6,000 new victims of crime, which represents a 16% increase in clients served over 2016.  Our office has been a primary participant in the formation and on-going success of Restitution Court in this county.  Since its inception in November of 2016, eight times more restitution dollars have been collected from offenders referred to the program than they were paying before referral. As of June 2018, 23 defendants have appeared in Restitution Court and $134,087.71 in restitution has been collected for victims of crime.   
The fourth year of our volunteer attorney program proved a success in 2017. Many newly-minted attorneys seek employment as prosecutors, but given the limited number of job openings, only a small number are able to find employment. Many are willing to devote their time to develop marketable skills as they obtain valuable experience working as deputy district attorneys. They provide 40 hours a week of service for a period of not more than six months. Last year, more of our volunteers moved into paid positions in other District Attorney or City Attorney offices, demonstrating the value and mutually beneficial nature of this program.

Future Priorities

We continue to fine-tune and expand the functionality of our case management system.  In the past year we have fully implemented electronic submissions of police reports from approximately 80% of the police agencies in San Mateo County.  Simultaneously, we have implemented an electronic discovery process with the defense bar.  Consequently, we have been able to eliminate the need for much of the paper flow into and out of the District Attorney’s Office.
In the coming year, this continued transition toward electronic storage of data will expand to digital evidence.  With many police agencies utilizing and planning to utilize body cameras, our office will be experiencing a massive influx of digital media.  It is the goal of this office to implement a digital evidence management system so that police agencies can send digital data to us electronically, so that it can be stored and shared electronically.  It is our expectation that the use of CD’s and DVD’s will incrementally decrease until the great majority of our casework occurs electronically, rather than with paper and discs.

Author: Joline Owyang, Financial Services Manager     Last Updated: August 24, 2018