Division of Criminal Law

The Criminal Law Division upholds the Attorney General’s constitutional responsibility to represent the People of California in criminal cases. The division is organized into several sections:

The Appeals, Writs and Trials Section handles post-conviction proceedings. This involves prosecuting felony criminal appeals in state court, responding to petitions for writs of habeas corpus in state and federal courts, and prosecuting death penalty appeals. Deputies also handle criminal investigations, conduct evidentiary hearings, appear in local courts to litigate recusal motions, and prosecute felonies in cases in which the local county district attorney has been recused or otherwise removed from the case. Deputies appear regularly in the California Court of Appeal, California Supreme Court, United States District Court, and Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, and occasionally in the United States Supreme Court.

The Bureau of Medi-Cal Fraud and Elder Abuse is an $18.6 million federal grant program. The Bureau conducts statewide investigations and prosecutes fraud relating to the activities of medical providers receiving funding under the Medi-Cal system. The section also reviews and prosecutes reports of elder abuse and neglect of patients housed in federally funded nursing home facilities.

Correctional Writs & Appeals Section represents the state in civil rights actions involving state prisoners. This section also represents the Department of Corrections, Board of Prison Terms, Youth Authority and the Department of Mental Health and their employees in cases regarding policies, practices or conditions of confinement of inmates.

The Office of Native American Affairs serves as liaison and addresses justice-related issues for California's Indian citizens who reside on reservations, rancherias and in urban communities for the overall improvement of the quality of life for Indian people.

The Financial Fraud and Special Prosecutions Unit investigates and prosecutes complex criminal cases occurring in California, primarily related to financial, securities, mortgage, and environmental fraud; public corruption, including violations of California’s Political Reform Act; “underground economy” offenses, including tax and revenue fraud and counterfeiting; transnational organized crime; human trafficking; and crimes within the scope of the Attorney General’s Bureau of Children’s Justice. Vertical teams of prosecutors, investigators, auditors, and paralegals often work with federal and local authorities on cases involving multi-jurisdictional criminal activity.

Victims' Services Unit leads California’s fight toward preserving the rights of crime victims through responsive programs, accessibility of services, and progressive legislation.

The Research Advisory Panel primarily seeks to ensure the safety and protection of participating human research subjects and adequate security of the controlled substances used in the study. The Panel Members evaluate the scientific validity of each proposed project, and may reject proposals where the research is poorly conceived, would produce conclusions of little scientific value, or would not justify the exposure of California subjects to the risk of research.

California law, pursuant to Health & Safety Code Sections §11480 & §11481, requires proposed research projects using certain opioid, stimulant, and hallucinogenic drugs classified as Schedule I and Schedule II Controlled Substances as their main study drug(s), to be reviewed and authorized by the Research Advisory Panel of California in the Attorney General's Office. See the Panel’s website for specific criteria.

During 2014 the Panel reviewed thirty-three research study submissions. Thirty-one were approved by the Panel. Among the approved studies, ten studies were Academic research studies, one study were Substance Abuse Treatment research protocols, and twenty studies were Multi-Clinical Drug Trial research studies.

At the end of 2014, the Panel was monitoring one hundred-thirteen research projects.