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 is one of the largest divisions in the office and its Deputy District Attorneys 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 developing 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 seven teams: pretrial, case disposition, trials, major violators, DUI homicide, Crimes against Police Officers (CAPO) 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.
This team works to assess felony cases in an attempt to reach fair and equitable case resolutions at the earliest possible opportunity. The team encourages immediate sentencing of defendants, where appropriate, which significantly reduces costs to San Diego County 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 such as serial robbers and other defendants charged with numerous serious felonies that face extraordinarily long prison sentences. In 2016, the prosecutors assigned to the unit closed 47 cases involving 65 defendants whose combined crimes included over 100 robberies, dozens of residential burglaries, and multiple carjacking and kidnapping cases. The major violators team consistently obtains lengthy prison sentences on the defendants it prosecutes, including seven life terms and prison terms ranging up to 41 years.
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.
Crimes Against Police Officers
The Crimes Against Police Officers Unit became a part of the Superior Court Division in 2016. This unit prosecutes felony cases in which defendants commit crimes against police officers. The unit also helps handle the special issues that arise in these types of cases. Members of this unit respond to the scene of the most serious cases as they happen. Crimes include violent resistance to officers, officers who are assaulted with firearms and other weapons, and other crimes against officers who are trying to perform their daily duties. The cases are handled vertically in order to help protect and serve those officers that put themselves in the line of fire every day.
Cold Case Homicide
The Cold Case Homicide Division exists to promote public safety by resolving unsolved homicides in San Diego County. This unit works closely with local law enforcement agencies to systematically inventory all unsolved homicides and missing persons cases that are on file in different agencies.