About Family Protection
The Family Protection Unit (FPU) prosecutes the most serious domestic violence, child abuse, child abduction, and elder abuse cases, protecting vulnerable victims who often cannot speak for themselves.
Unit prosecutors and investigators have the experience to handle these difficult cases, where victims often oppose prosecution, and may refuse to cooperate.
Numerous studies establish children who grow up in abusive homes may become violent and aggressive, lack self-control, have low self-esteem, and perform poorly in school, often resulting in future criminal behavior. Many inmates report they were raised in violent home environments. The FPU strives to break this cycle of violence.
The FPU prosecutes approximately 300 – 400 felony domestic violence cases a year. Thousands of misdemeanor domestic violence cases are handled by the branch courts. The FPU works with victim advocates who provide valuable information to victims and can help obtain protective orders, counseling, food stamps, emergency financial assistance, and relocation to a safe shelter or other residence. At the Orange County Family Justice Center, and the Santa Ana Family Justice Center, a victim may obtain a variety of information and assistance from a multi-agency team of personnel dedicated to serve domestic violence victims.
Elder And Dependent Adult Abuse
The Family Protection Unit also investigates and prosecutes felony financial and physical elder and dependent adult abuse cases. Through the Elder Abuse Forensic Center, a victim may obtain a variety of assistance from a deputy district attorney, law enforcement officers, social services workers, victim advocates, staff at the University of California, Irvine School of Medicine, Public Administrator, and Public Guardian. The team reviews cases, performs in-home medical and mental status checks, conducts evidentiary investigations, and participates in gerontology education and research.
The most serious and complicated child physical abuse and neglect cases are handled by the Family Protection Unit. Child victims are the most vulnerable victims and the FPU seeks justice on their behalf. Properly investigating and prosecuting these cases takes time, patience and skill. Less serious child abuse cases are referred to Felony Panel and branch court deputy district attorneys.
Child Abduction Unit
The Family Protection Unit contains within it the Child Abduction Unit. This concentrated unit investigates and handles cases of missing children in civil and/or criminal court, when the suspected abductor is a family member. Depending on the circumstances, these complex cases may call for international investigations. The Family Protection Unit maintains an average 100-case workload, with the primary goal of returning missing children to their legal guardians through the enforcement of civil court orders.