The Superior Court and Central Pretrial/Case Disposition Division is responsible for prosecuting some of the most challenging cases in the District Attorney’s Office, including assaults, burglaries, robberies, felony DUIs, and murders.
It’s one of the largest divisions in the office and its Deputy DAs handle all felonies not assigned to a branch or vertical prosecution. This division is responsible for more than 25 percent of all felony cases tried by the District Attorney’s Office.
In addition, the Superior Court Division handles pre and post-conviction mental health cases for those defendants alleged to be incompetent to stand trial and those found to be a danger to the community as a result of mental illness.
Training and development of Deputy District Attorneys is an important aspect of the Superior Court Division. Monthly training sessions are presented on various aspects of criminal prosecution. Riding along with law enforcement officers is encouraged as well.
The unique combination of senior trial attorneys and junior deputies in the division helps junior deputies develop the skills and knowledge necessary to become highly skilled felony trial attorneys.
The division consists of six teams: pretrial, case disposition, trials, major violators, DUI homicide and cold case homicide.
These prosecutors handle a large number of serious cases. They arraign defendants charged in felony complaints, then prepare and conduct preliminary examinations in front of a judge to prove the charges based upon a probable cause standard. In doing so, the preliminary hearing Deputy DAs are liaisons between the DA’s Office, law enforcement and the victims and witnesses of crime.
The pretrial deputies also handle suppression motions, bail reviews, and miscellaneous court calendars. Occasionally, they conduct misdemeanor trials, which occur when felony charges are reduced to misdemeanors at the preliminary hearing.
The team works to assess felony cases in an attempt to reach fair and equitable resolutions of the cases at the earliest possible opportunity. The team encourages the immediate sentencing of defendants, where appropriate, significantly reducing costs to San Diego County and taxpayers.
The team is responsible for prosecuting cases that are bound over by the pretrial team and also serious trials that are assigned vertically from the time the case was presented by law enforcement. Those cases involve murder, attempted murder, arson and other complex felony cases.
The unit prosecutes criminals with extensive felony backgrounds, serial robbers and other defendants charged with numerous serious felonies that face extraordinarily long prison sentences. In 2015, the prosecutors assigned to the unit closed 30 cases involving 36 defendants whose combined crimes included 81 robberies, 57 residential burglaries, two carjackings and a kidnapping. Two life terms and lengthy prison terms ranging from 41 years to 12 years were imposed on these defendants.
DUI Homicide Unit
The DUI Homicide unit began in October of 2014 with a grant from the Office of Traffic Safety. This unit handles all of the homicides that occur in the county where someone is driving while under the influence of alcohol or drugs. This unit also prosecutes some of the most serious injury DUI cases. The goal of the unit is to be actively involved at the investigations stage of the case in order to better prosecute the offenders. This requires the Deputy District Attorneys and the Investigator to be available to law enforcement at all times and to respond to the scene of the collisions.
Cold Case Homicide
The Cold Case Homicide Division exists to promote public safety by resolving the unsolved homicides within our county. The division has worked cooperatively with local law enforcement to systematically inventory all cases of unsolved homicides and missing persons that are on file in the different agencies. The division assists law enforcement by investigating and resolving these cases in order to bring the guilty to justice and closure to the families of victims.