Special Prosecutions

About Special Prosecutions

The Orange County District Attorney’s Office’s (OCDA) Special Prosecutions Unit handles high-profile, sensitive cases that require special attention.

The unit upholds the professional integrity of licensed professionals, such as doctors and attorneys, in the course of performing their duties. The Special Prosecutions Unit is the primary advisor to the Orange County Grand Jury and reviews officer-involved shootings and custodial death investigations.

How the Special Prosecutions Unit works

  • Investigates and prosecutes individuals who violate public trust or commit criminal violations of state laws that regulate the conduct of elected or appointed public officials and employees, including law enforcement officers, whether on or off duty.
    • Lifetime bans from holding public office have been imposed in cases involving corrupt public officials who abused their official positions and violated public trust for personal and/or financial gain.
  • Conducts intensive investigations involving government oversight and involve examination of multiple witness interviews and voluminous documentary evidence to oversee local elected governmental bodies to protect, promote, and strengthen transparency and accountability in local, elected, or appointed governmental bodies.
  • Handles many different topics including hate crimes, perjury, election violations, parole hearings, and arson.
  • Files and prosecutes individuals who commit crimes against police officers in its newly formed “Crimes Against Police Officers (CAPO) Unit.
  • Works with the Orange County Registrar of Voters during elections and provides an on-call legal team to facilitate a fair election process.
  • Handles more than 200 cases per year to prevent premature release of violent felons and committee to state mental institutions to extend the civil commitment of mentally ill individuals.

In order to ensure enforcement of criminal laws when a suspect flees the state, the Unit works with the U.S. Department of Justice’s Office of International Affairs and foreign governments to coordinate national and international extraditions.

The Orange County District Attorney’s Office (OCDA) fights against the release of dangerous felons from prison into the community to protect victims’ rights and public safety. When the California Department of Rehabilitation and Corrections notifies the OCDA that an inmate is due to be paroled, an experienced prosecutor reviews the case, and when appropriate, drafts a Letter of Opposition, may conduct multiple hearings, and advocates for victims of crime, whether they are present or absent.

The OCDA participates in approximately 200 parole hearings each year. 

  • Prosecutors attend hearings in person to advocate for the Board of Parole Hearings to deny the release of dangerous inmates into the community, and 77 percent were denied in 2017. 
  • The rest are opposed through video conferencing. 

Over 90 percent of these parole hearings are for inmates in prison for murder. Many of these dangerous inmates maintain that they were wrongfully convicted, fail to show remorse or accept the gravity of their crimes, commit new crimes, and fail to follow rules, even in a structured prison environment. If parole is denied, the inmate may renew a request for consideration in three to 15 years.

The Orange County District Attorney’s Office remains committed to keeping violent, recidivist criminals behind bars to protect our communities. Despite the OCDA’s strenuous opposition in the appropriate cases, we are seeing an increase in the early release of murderers, rapists and other violent offenders. We will continue to advocate against their release and giving a voice to victims to protect them and the community at large.

The Orange County District Attorney’s Office is committed to protecting public safety and preserving the quality of life in our community through civil abatement and criminal prosecution of state law and county ordinance violations related to substandard conditions, fire hazards, public health, and area nuisances.

The Consumer and Environmental Protection Unit's (EPU) Code Enforcement Division provides direct enforcement support for violations occurring in unincorporated areas of Orange County and assists local municipalities on complex code matters. The Code Enforcement Division resolves most violations by administrative action and/or through office conferences. Formal criminal actions are usually reserved for matters involving life safety or where timely regulatory compliance is not forthcoming.  

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Hate crime laws prohibit the use or threat of force or the destruction of property by any individual to intimidate, interfere with, oppress, or threaten any other person in exercising any right secured by the U.S. Constitution or state or federal laws based on “race, color, religion, ancestry, national origin, sexual orientation, gender or disability.”  In addition, any felony or attempted felony that is “substantially motivated” by such factors is subject to a sentencing enhancement for up to four additional years in state prison. The Orange County District Attorney’s Office also works closely with anti-hate groups including the Anti-Defamation League and the Orange County Human Relations Commission to foster acceptance and understanding in order to ensure that all people are treated fairly, equally, and free from discrimination.