Prosecuting Criminals

Several different agencies prosecute crime committed in San Diego County.

San Diego County District Attorney

The San Diego County District Attorney represents the People of the State of California in bringing criminal charges arising out of state law and county ordinances against suspects in San Diego Superior Court. Article 11, sections 1 and 4 of the California Constitution mandate that each county have an elected district attorney. By statute, "The district attorney is the public prosecutor . . . . The public prosecutor shall attend the courts, and within his or her discretion initiate and conduct on behalf of the people all prosecutions for public offenses." (Cal. Government Code, § 26500.) In simple terms, the district attorney has the responsibility and authority to investigate and prosecute all criminal acts committed within San Diego County in violation of state laws and county ordinances in the trial courts.

The district attorney also represents the People in the California appellate courts when appealing adverse trial court rulings and during pretrial writ proceedings. We also handle all appeals of our misdemeanor convictions. But when felony defendants appeal their convictions, the California Attorney General steps in to represent the People in the appellate courts.

San Diego City Attorney

The San Diego City Attorney has jurisdiction to prosecute all infraction and misdemeanor offenses arising out of city ordinances. In addition, with the district attorney's consent, the city attorney shares jurisdiction with the district attorney to prosecute misdemeanor violations of state law that have occurred within San Diego city limits. (Cal. Government Code, § § 41803.5, 72193; Charter of the City of San Diego, § § 40, 40.1.)

California Attorney General

The California Attorney General is the chief law officer of the state who, in addition to handling criminal appeals, can assume district attorney powers to prosecute crime in superior court when necessary. The Attorney General also assists district attorneys in the discharge of their duties.

United States Attorney General

Crimes against the United States are prosecuted in federal court by the United States Attorney and the United States Attorney General.