The Major Crimes Division is a collection of seven specialized units which prosecute serious crimes and administer unique and specialized responsibilities within the Riverside County District Attorney’s office. The units are staffed primarily by Senior Deputy District Attorneys who have developed specialized skills and knowledge to assist them in prosecuting the challenging cases and tasks to which they are assigned.
The Career Criminal Unit is statutorily mandated by California Penal Code section 999 and prosecutes criminals committing serious and violent felonies who have either previously been convicted of a serious crime or have recently committed a series of violent or serious crimes. Serious and violent crimes prosecuted by the Career Criminal Unit include murder, rape, child molestation, robbery, carjacking and arson. Career Criminal cases are ordinarily prosecuted by one Deputy District Attorney within the unit from the initial filing stage through sentencing. By statute, it is mandated that, with limited exception, Career Criminal cases are not plea bargained at any stage.
Crimes Against Peace Officers
The Crimes Against Peace Officers (CAPO) Unit prosecutes all felony crimes that has a peace officer as a victim. CAPO cases are ordinarily prosecuted by one Deputy District Attorney within the unit from the initial filing stages through sentencing. The CAPO Unit prosecutes a wide range of crimes normally involving force or the threat of force upon a peace officer from a battery on a peace officer causing injury to attempted murder of a peace officer.
The Vehicular Homicide Unit prosecutes all cases in which a human was killed by a vehicle. The unit prosecutes misdemeanors caused by driving with simple negligence as well as felonies such as murder. Vehicular Homicide Unit cases are ordinarily prosecuted by one Deputy District Attorney within the unit from the initial filing stage through sentencing. The unit works in close association with local and national safety organizations like Mothers Against Drunk Driving and Leaders in Community Alternatives.
The Lifer Hearing Unit is comprised of two deputy district attorneys, two clerical staff and a victim-witness advocate. The deputy district attorneys provide representation for victims and family members of victims of crimes at Board of Parole Hearings where an inmate has been sentenced to prison for life with the possibility of parole. The Board of Parole Hearings are held at prisons throughout California. After review of the inmate’s entire history including the life crime for which they were convicted, a Deputy District Attorney attends parole hearings typically arguing against releasing the inmate from prison. The clerical staff and victim services advocate provide support to the Deputy District Attorney and the victim's next of kin who have the right to attend and be heard at parole hearings. Including assessing the inmate’s suitability for parole, the deputy district attorney must also stay informed of parole suitability laws and victim rights, write position letters to the Board of Parole Hearings and the Governor and also attend hearings.
The Prison Crimes Unit is responsible for all filings of criminal cases which derive from the California Rehabilitation Center (CRC) in Norco. Once the cases are filed, a transportation order is prepared in order to arraign the defendant on the offense. It is the Prison Crimes Unit prosecutor’s responsibility to see the case from the arraignment stage through trial or disposition. The vast majority of the crimes which the prisoners commit are drug possession and drug sales cases as well as possession of a "shank", or homemade weapon. However, the Prison Crimes Unit also files and prosecutes, to a lesser degree, conspiracy to bring drugs into the prison, indecent exposure, and batteries on correctional officers as well as on other inmates. Being a grant-funded position it is the Deputy District Attorney's responsibility to accurately keep track of all hours spent and which cases those hours were spent on.
Fugitive Apprehension Unit
The Fugitive Apprehension Unit (FAU) is responsible for locating and returning fugitives for prosecution in Riverside County. The unit works with other federal and state agencies in returning fugitives to face justice. The FAU prosecutor appears in court on fugitive matters, ensures required hearings are conducted and works closely with the California Governor’s Office to ensure all necessary paperwork is received within the time required. The FAU prosecutor is also responsible for prosecuting international extraditions and works closely with the Office of International Affairs, within the Department of Justice, to seek the return of Riverside County fugitives charged with serious crimes like murder, attempted murder, and sexual assault crimes, who have fled to other countries.
Post Release Community Service
In 2011, California Gov. Edmund G. Brown Jr. signed Assembly Bills 109 and 117, commonly known as Public Safety Realignment. As a result of the legislation, since Oct. 1, 2011, offenders convicted of any of the three "nons" -- non-serious, non-violent, and non-registerable sex crimes -- have been incarcerated in our local jails instead of in state prison. In response to this change, the District Attorney created a Post Release Community Supervision (PRCS) Unit which oversees this new category of parolees created by Assembly Bill 109. A Deputy District Attorney in this unit attends settlement conferences for potential offenders to determine whether an admission will be made to a new crime violating the probation terms of Post Release Community Supervision. If a waiver is not signed by the defendant, a hearing will be conducted within a reasonable amount of time to determine the violation. In order to facilitate these hearings the Deputy District Attorney must read each file, discuss with probation their recommendation, give their feedback, and prepare for the hearing which is conducted with live witnesses to make sure that anyone who violates PRCS is held accountable.