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 2016-17 Story Behind Performance

As we reported last year, the implementation of Proposition 47 in November of 2014 resulted in an abrupt downturn in felony filings. Cases involving a wide array of drug or theft offenses were converted from felony or misdemeanor at the District Attorney’s discretion to misdemeanor-only offenses. After noting a significant decline in felony filings in 2015, the number of felony filings rebounded in 2016, moving from 2,090 in 2015 to over 2,700 last year.

The prosecution of murder cases remained a high priority in 2016. In addition to the ongoing, labor-intensive pursuit of seven Sunny Day cases withover a dozen defendants, we had 23 active murder cases (involving 29 defendants) in various stages of prosecution. In addition, six murder cases, with defendants ranging in age from 19 to 94, proceeded to jury trial and verdicts. The cases spanned the decades, including not just recent offenses but also “cold cases” dating back to as long 40 years ago. These resource-intensive cases will continue to occupy us in 2017.

Serving the victims of crime remained a focus of our efforts in 2016. The Victim Services division of the District Attorney’s Office continues to support victims of crime in San Mateo County, whether or not the case is prosecuted by our office. In the calendar year 2016, our Victim Services Division served a total of 5,189 victims, which is an increase of 1,422 victims served in 2015. This increase in services was the combined result of diligent outreach efforts bythe Victim Services Division, as well as a management policy mandating referral of all cases in which victims might be entitled to restitution to the VictimServices Division. Services provided to these victims include assistance with seeking reimbursement for out-of-pocket losses from the California Victim Compensation Program, court accompaniment, crisis intervention, and resource and referral assistance.

Year three of our volunteer attorney program proved a success in 2016. 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, three 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.

Average Cost Per Case

As noted in the accompanying graphs, we experienced an increase in the average cost “per case” of prosecution last year.

Future Priorities

We continue to fine-tune and expand the functionality of the case management system. Next steps include further reducing the need for paper files as we launch “e-submission” and “e-discovery,” allowing for police reports to be transmitted from police departments to our office, and then to defense attorneys, electronically, without the need for printing or copying reports.
Author: Joline Owyang, Financial Services Manager     Last Updated: September 8, 2017