Having trouble viewing this newsletter? Click here to open it as a webpage.
March 2018
Volume 3, Issue 3
Dear Friends:
When I was a student, I walked to and from my high school in fear of being shot by gang members. However, that fear ended when I walked onto my campus.
Spotlight: Sex Crimes Division
The crimes are unthinkable.

But they are the crimes that prosecutors in the District Attorney’s Sex Crimes Division address every day in hopes of bringing some justice to victims.

The more than two dozen deputy district attorneys assigned to the Sex Crimes Division review nearly 1,000 cases of rape, sexual assault and the sexual abuse of children each year for possible criminal filing.

These cases are some of the most challenging to prosecute for a variety of reasons, which include a lack of corroborating evidence when the victim is the only witness to the crime. Drugs and alcohol often are involved, or the suspect insists the encounter was consensual.

In some cases, child victims of assault, in which the perpetrator is a relative, will recant their allegations -- sometimes under pressure from other relatives who support the perpetrator. Victims, particularly those caught up in human sex trafficking, sometimes break off contact with prosecutors and cannot be found.

“In these cases, there is sometimes fear by victims that they won’t be believed,” said Christina Buckley, the Sex Crimes Division head deputy. “It’s the job of prosecutors to work with them."

Successful cases typically involve a combination of factors, such as the victim reporting the crime quickly to authorities, cooperative witnesses and the presence of physical evidence and DNA evidence, Buckley said.

Like all criminal cases, to file charges prosecutors must have sufficient credible evidence to prove the defendant is guilty of the crime beyond a reasonable doubt.

Unfortunately, that is a difficult legal standard to meet in sex crimes. Three out of four cases are declined for filing because of a lack of evidence and lack of cooperation by victims and witnesses.

When charges are filed, however, the vast majority of cases end with a conviction.

Even when charges are declined, Sex Crimes Division prosecutors let victims know that their accounts may help later if additional criminal allegations arise against their assailants.

Buckley said that these cases are emotionally taxing for prosecutors: “It requires a thick skin and a lot of empathy.”
Fraud Alert
  Significant Cases
Getting paid with a bad check is bad enough, but it’s even worse when the check writer cons an online seller into handing over cash as part of the transaction.

Read the Fraud Alert here .
  • Two insurance agents who allegedly conned a 91-year-old woman out of more than $1 million were charged with multiple felony counts. Read about the charges.

  • Jurors deliberated less than a day before finding a Whittier father guilty of killing his infant daughter. Find out how much time he faces behind bars.

  • A man was sentenced to 35 years to life in prison thanks partly to a DNA hit 17 years after the kidnapping and sexual assault of a teenage boy in Northridge. Learn more about the case. 
More than 640 Inmates Diverted to
Mental Health Treatment
For certain criminal offenders with mental illness, being arrested can lead to a judicial limbo.

Specifically, offenders accused of committing misdemeanors and deemed by a judge incompetent to stand trial, known as MIST defendants, may be jailed for months in the mental health unit (pictured below) until they are declared competent or until the maximum sentences for their crimes are completed.

As a result, some of these offenders may spend more time in jail than they would if they were competent to stand trial, convicted and sentenced.

“There had to be a change,” District Attorney Jackie Lacey said. “MIST defendants – often jailed for minor, nonviolent offenses – occupy jail beds better suited for more serious criminals.”

The District Attorney’s Office, law enforcement agencies, county health officials and the Office of the Public Defender are working together to address this challenge through the Misdemeanor Incompetent to Stand Trial Community- Based Restoration Program.

The goal of the program is to provide mental health treatment outside of county jail. The MIST offenders are placed in appropriate recuperative settings that match their psychiatric needs with the level of structure and treatment necessary – all the while making sure that the offenders do not pose a threat to public safety. Many of these misdemeanor offenders are homeless.

Since November 2015, more than 640 misdemeanor defendants deemed incompetent to stand trial have been released directly into community treatment. That is more than three times the goal set at the program’s inception.

Prosecutors from the District Attorney’s Psychiatric Section track these defendants to make sure they do not pose a danger to the community and are successfully returned to competence so they can go to criminal court to address their underlying criminal offenses.

“It is my office’s role to make sure that public safety remains paramount,” District Attorney Lacey said. “This program may achieve that in two ways: restoring the lives of people through treatment and making sure that serious, violent offenders remain in custody.”
Did You Know...?
The father of U.S. Army Gen. George S. Patton Jr., the legendary World War II tank commander, served briefly as Los Angeles County District Attorney. The elder George S. Patton was the first city attorney of Pasadena before being elected District Attorney in 1886. Patton was in office less than four months before resigning over health concerns.
Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office | (213) 974-3512 | info@da.lacounty.gov

Not signed up for our newsletter? Click here to join our email list.