The Family Protection Division prosecutes crimes of murder, domestic violence, stalking, crimes against children, and elder abuse. The division strongly supports victims of crime and works closely with criminal justice agencies and community partners. In 2014, the division was led by Chief Valerie Summers and Assistant Chief Teresa Santana. During this time, the Family Protection Division prosecuted 1,552 domestic violence cases of which 487 were felonies and 1,065 were misdemeanors. In addition, there were 222 child abuse cases and 13 Internet crimes against children cases prosecuted along with charges filed in 256 elder abuse and seven assisted living facility cases.
Today’s misdemeanor can be tomorrow’s homicide. That’s why the DA’s Office has specially-trained Deputy District Attorneys across the county handling misdemeanor domestic violence cases from the earliest stages. The office also prosecutes felony domestic violence committed in the county. Having a prosecutor handle domestic violence cases from beginning to end ensures better courtroom efficiency, better perpetrator accountability, and better victim safety.
In 2014, the District Attorney’s Office continued working with the “High Risk Team,” created in 2011 to improve community response and victim support in the most dangerous situations. The team, led by the DA’s Office, consists of various local police agencies and non-governmental groups who meet regularly to connect victims with support.
In 2014, elder abuse was expanded to include investigation and prosecution of assisted living facilities and nursing home cases. The division added attorneys, investigators and paralegals to handle this new area of prosecution. In a true community-partnering effort, our office spearheads a grant called, “The HOPE Team.” We bring together Adult Protective Services, the San Diego Police Department and The Center for Community Solutions with the goal of protecting senior citizens. The team meets weekly and discusses individual cases in order to best serve senior victims. The team makes home visits, assists in legal advice, and provides care packages to seniors in need. Specially-trained Deputy DAs and victim advocates have proven that rapport and relationships with our elder victims endure well beyond the prosecution of any particular case.
Internet Crimes Against Children
The Internet Crimes against Children Task Force (ICAC) is comprised of law enforcement officers and prosecutors from the local, state, and national levels who work together to reduce the online sexual exploitation of children. The unit has Deputy District Attorneys specially-trained in prosecuting the exploitation of children on the internet. Efforts include full-time online investigation of Internet predators, aggressive prosecution of offenders, as well as community outreach to schools and parents.