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• Mission Statement of the DA
• Victim-Witness Mission Statement
• Domestic Violence
• Bad Check Program
• Elder Abuse
The windmills near Ocotillo at the edge of Imperial Valley
What is an arraignment?
An arraignment is a court hearing where the defendant is formally charged with an offense or offenses filed against him or her. In addition, the court also advises the defendant of their constitutional rights and provides the defendant with a copy of the complaint. The defendant can enter a guilty or not guilty plea. If a defendant cannot afford an attorney, the court may appoint an attorney if the defendant qualifies.
Where can I report a crime?
You can report a crime to the police agency or law enforcement agency that has jurisdiction over the city or county where the crime occurred. For example, if the crime occurred in Calexico, the crime is reported to the Calexico Police Department. However, if the crime occurred in an unincorporated area within the County of Imperial, than the crime is reported to the Imperial County Sheriff Office.
What is the jurisdiction of the Imperial County District Attorney's Office?
The Imperial County District Attorney’s Office prosecutes crimes that occur within the County of Imperial. This includes crimes that are allege to have occurred in Calexico, El Centro, Brawley, Calipatria, Westmorland, Seeley, Heber, Niland, Desert Shores, Salton Sea area, Winterhaven, Holtville, and other unincorporated areas of Imperial County.
Who decides what charges to file, and how do they make that decision?
A deputy district attorney reviews cases brought to the District Attorney’s Office by local law enforcement agencies. The reports are reviewed in light of current law and whether we can prove beyond a reasonable doubt the charges requested by the agency.
Who is the District Attorney of Imperial County?
The District Attorney of Imperial is the Hon. Gilbert G. Otero. The district attorney is elected to the position every four years.
If the District Attorney's Office decides to file a charge or charges, what happens next?
Once the District Attorney’s Office decides to file a charge or charges, a complaint is prepared. A complaint is a document that tells a defendant what charge or charges are filed against him or her. If the complaint is a misdemeanor complaint, than the law enforcement agency files the complaint in the judicial district where the crime occurred. For example if the crime occurred in Calexico, the complaint is filed in the Calexico Superior Court. However, if a felony charge or charges are approved, than the law enforcement agency files the complaint at the Jail Department.
What happens when a complaint is filed?
If a misdemeanor complaint is filed, the court assigns a court case number to the complaint and notifies the District Attorney’s Office. The District Attorney’s Office prepares a Notice of Arraignment notifying the defendant of his first court appearance in court. If a felony complaint is filed, the court issues an arrest warrant.
I was cited and released by the police, how can I find out whether the DA has filed charges against me?
Only the suspect or the suspect’s attorney may call to ask whether charges have been filed. A suspect or the suspect’s attorney may call the District Attorney’s Office at 760-482-4331.
If I get a subpoena, do I have to go to court?
Yes. If you fail to do so, the judge may impose a fine or a jail sentence. If you are subpoenaed by the District Attorney’s Office, you can call the following telephone number to verify whether you will still be needed in court: 760-482-4346. You can also ask to speak to the deputy who is handling the case.
If the court ordered the defendant to pay restitution, how is it collected?
If the defendant is on felony or summary probation, you may contact the Imperial County Probation Office and ask to speak to the defendant’s supervising probation officer. The telephone number for the Imperial County Probation Office is 760-339-6229. If the defendant was sentenced to state prison, the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation can provide assistance. It is very important for a victim to provide all the information necessary so that the court can order the correct amount of restitution owed to a victim.
If I am called as a witness, will I have to speak in front of the defendant in court?
Yes. The defendant has a right to be present to hear the testimony and evidence presented against him or her. In addition, the defendant’s defense attorney has the right to ask you questions.
If I must miss work in order to testify, will the District Attorney's Office pay my wages when I testify?
No. A witness must go to court to testify about matters that he or she has knowledge of. However, if a witnesses is traveling from out of county, a witness may be entitled to mileage.
If I am a victim of a crime, can you tell me the name of the defendant and the court dates?
Yes. If we have filed charges against the defendant, we can provide a victim with the name of the defendant and the court dates. A victim can call the office at 760-482-4331.
If I am a victim of domestic violence, and I do not want to file charges, do I have the right "not to press charges"?
No. A victim does not “press charges” or “drop charges”. All criminal complaints are prosecuted on behalf of the State of California. All crimes are offenses not just against the individual but also against the public. The prosecutor, and only the prosecutor, can issue or dismiss a complaint. However, the prosecutor may take into account a victim’s concerns. Many factors are taken into account when deciding whether to file a criminal complaint and how to resolve charges after a complaint is filed. These factors include, but is not limited to, a defendant’s criminal history, whether the defendant has been arrested or convicted of the same or similar crime, the severity of the current offense, the extent of any injuries suffered by a victim, whether the defendant has other pending charges, and whether the defendant could be a danger to the public now and in the future.
What is a plea agreement?
A plea agreement is a way of settling a criminal case without the time and expense of a trial. In forming a plea offer, the prosecutor considers the seriousness of the crime, the strength of the evidence, the likelihood of a guilty verdict, the victims’ trauma when testifying. In addition, a victim’s wishes and public safety are also taken into consideration. A plea agreement is always designed to balance these competing interests.
Are there any services available to a victim of crime?
Yes. If you are a victim of a crime, you may contact the Imperial County Probation Victim-Witness Assistance Program located at 940 West Main Street, El Centro, California 92243, or call 760-339-6870; or contact the Victim Compensation and Government Claims Board at 800-777-229 or 800-955-0045. You may also click on this link to receive more information from our Victim-Witness page.
Does the District Attorney or District Attorney's Office represent the victim?
No. The District Attorney’s Office represents the People of the State of California. A prosecutor is prevented by law from answering legal questions or offering legal advice. (California Bus. & Prof. Code § 6131) Further, the district attorney does not have the authority to prosecute civil cases such as divorces or adoption, on behalf of individual citizens.
Where is the Imperial County District Attorney's Office located?
The Imperial County District Attorney’s Office is located at 940 West Main Street, Suite 102, El Centro, Ca 92243 The telephone number to the main office 760-482-4331.
Where do I go if I need assistance in obtaining child support?
The Department of Child Support Services (DCSS) handles child/family support issues. The office of the Department of Child Support Services is located at 2795 S. 4th Street, El Centro, CA 92243, (866)901-3212; email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Imperial County District Attorney's Office no longer handles child/family support issues. Enforcement and establishment of paternity and child support now fall under the DCSS.