The Shasta County District Attorney is the "Public Prosecutor" for State and Local crimes committed in Shasta County. This duty involves two significant tasks to be completed by the prosecutors employed by the District Attorney:
- To review all requests from law enforcement agencies for a criminal complaint and determine whether to issue the criminal Complaint; and
- To prosecute all cases for which a complaint has been issued.
Determination of Whether to Issue a Criminal Complaint
All local law enforcement agencies (Anderson Police Department, Redding Police Department, Shasta County Sheriff's Office, California Highway Patrol, California Department of Fish & Game, Department of Motor Vehicles, etc.), other Shasta County peace officers, and special task forces (District Attorney Bureau of Investigations investigators and Shasta Inter-Agency Narcotics Task Force (SINTF) agents) submit police reports and requests for the issuance of a criminal Complaint to the District Attorney Criminal Prosecution Division. Each report and request is reviewed for sufficient evidence to support the criminal charge(s) and the issuance of a criminal complaint. The evidence is reviewed to determine if it is sufficient to prove the charge to a jury "beyond a reasonable doubt."
Following a review of the police reports, the District Attorney's Office may take one of several actions.
The District Attorney may:
- File the charges in a criminal complaint;
- Not issue the criminal complaint, but send the case back to the law enforcement agency with a request for additional investigation;
- Reject or decline the case for a number of reasons. Each request for complaint must be reviewed in a timely manner. This is a difficult task given the number of requests for complaints filed with the District Attorney's Office. It is not unusual for the District Attorney' Office to receive over 1,000 requests for complaints in a month.
Decision To Deny The Request For Issuance Of A Criminal Complaint
If the request for complaint is denied, no additional work is done on the case by the District Attorney's Office unless a law enforcement officer submits another request with additional evidence. If the suspect was jailed pending the issuance of a complaint, he or she will be released from custody.
Decision Not To Issue Pending Further Investigation
When further investigation is requested, the deputy district attorney provides the law enforcement officer with a request for specific additional investigation that is needed before a criminal complaint can be issued. It then becomes the responsibility of the requesting officer to complete the additional investigation and provide the information to the District Attorney's Office before a criminal complaint will be issued.
Decision to Issue A Criminal Complaint
Once the decision to file a complaint has been made, the task of successfully and fairly prosecuting the case begins. There are currently 23 prosecutors employed in the Criminal Division of the Shasta County District Attorney's Office. Each prosecutor works on behalf of the people of the State of California to see that individuals who commit crimes are convicted and punished so that justice is accomplished. Once a criminal case is filed the matter may be resolved by a negotiated disposition, at which a defendant would admit the truth of the charges, or by a trial before a judge or a jury. Resolution can occur within days of filing a complaint or years. Many cases can also be extremely complex, requiring significant law expertise and a significant amount of legal paperwork and procedures to successfully complete the prosecution.
As is the trend in the general legal field, the District Attorney's Office has areas of specialization to help better prosecute cases of significance. Consequently, the District Attorney's Office assigns specific prosecutors to specialize in and handle cases in a particular area of law. Furthermore, many of these prosecutors are grouped in units or teams to help maximize the efficient operation of the office. The following paragraphs provide an overview of the organization of the attorneys in the Criminal Prosecution Division.