The criminal justice system involves several distinct participants. Each is an integral part of the system. Below, each participant is identified and their role in the criminal justice system described:


The victim is the individual who has suffered injury, loss of life, loss of property or other indignity. The victim is usually an individual, but can be a business or other entity. Historically, the criminal justice system has primarily focused on preserving the rights of the defendant and not the victim. However, in recent years those involved in the criminal justice system have fought to increase awareness of victim's concerns and have developed a number of rights for victims. Victims now have others to help them overcome the pain, distress, indignity, and inconvenience of being a victim. Several agencies exist to serve victims in our community and act as a voice for victims in the criminal justice system. For any questions regarding this information or should you need assistance, please review the information in the page titled Victim Witness Assistance Program.

Law Enforcement

The various law enforcement agencies in Shasta County respond to the report of a crime and investigate the crime. Law enforcement agencies are responsible for identifying witnesses, gathering information, and collecting evidence. Once the investigation is complete, the law enforcement agency refers the case to the Office of the District Attorney if a criminal complaint is sought against the offender. The law enforcement agencies in Shasta County include the Redding Police Department, the Anderson Police Department, the Shasta County Sheriff's office, the California Highway Patrol, the Department of Fish and Game, and others.

District Attorney

The District Attorney has the primary responsibility for prosecuting those who commit crimes in Shasta County. The District Attorney and his staff review police reports submitted by law enforcement agencies to determine whether or not criminal charges should be filed against a citizen. If criminal charges are filed, the District Attorney is responsible for prosecuting the case in court to its conclusion. The District Attorney is charged with the responsibility of enforcing the laws to the ultimate end of seeing that justice is done.


The judge is the person who presides over the cases and makes the ultimate decisions regarding legal matters. The judge is required to be a neutral or impartial party in the court proceeding. The judge is responsible for imposing a sentence on a defendant after a conviction.

Defense Attorney

The defense attorney represents the defendant who is charged with the crime. The defense attorney's responsibility is to zealously represent the defendant. Sometimes the defense attorney is appointed for the defendant by the County free of charge (Public Defender), and sometimes the defendant hires his or her own attorney.