Criminal Division

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Criminal Prosecution

Our Prosecuting Attorneys Do All of The Following:

  • The Criminal Division: 22 attorneys and 32 support staff
  • Review all felony investigations in Yuma County for possible prosecution. (3233 felony and misdemeanors were reviewed in 2014). Each of these felony investigations was screened by a specially trained attorney. The screening process typically takes one to three hours for a routine case. For a complex, serious case, it will take much longer. A total of 1189 cases were of the felony and misdemeanor investigations reviewed did not pass this screening and prosecution was declined.
  • Case filings increase as crime increases and in 2014 we filed cases against 1,492 felony defendants.
  • All serious violent crimes are handled by a small team of experienced prosecuting attorneys.
  • Our experienced attorneys review all traffic fatality investigations for possible homicide prosecution.
  • Our Criminal Division Attorneys are on-call 24 hours/day to do the following:
    • Respond to homicide and major crime scenes;
    • Answer legal questions from law enforcement officers;
    • Respond to arson scenes;
    • Respond to serious gang-related crimes.
  • Our Criminal Division attorneys prosecute all Petitions for Violation of Probation. Some of these are contested by the defendant, requiring a hearing at which witnesses testify and evidence is presented.
  • A Criminal Division attorney prepares written responses and appears at all court hearings on Petitions for Post Conviction Relief (These are filed by defendants who have pled guilty or who have already finished their first appeal.)
  • Criminal Division attorneys must attend lengthy criminal calendars each week. Some of these calendars last all morning and into the afternoon.
  • Criminal Division attorneys attend both Yuma County Grand Juries (two days per week).
  • Review and prosecute all misdemeanors occurring outside the limits of a City, Town or Tribal Reservation. There were 1528 misdemeanor case filed in 2014.

Our Criminal Division works hard to ensure that crime victims are informed and have a chance to express their concerns. Criminal prosecutors do all of the following:

  • Send a letter with explanation to every victim on every felony investigation for which prosecution is declined.
  • The same type of letter must be sent to misdemeanor victims if the misdemeanor involved threats, assault or sex offenses.
  • Confer with crime victims whenever requested by the victim. This includes all victims of felonies and all victims of misdemeanors involving physical injury, threat of physical injury or a sex offense.
  • Re-review case investigations upon victim request. Upon written request of the victim, we assign an attorney, different from the attorney who initially reviewed the case, to re-review a case that has been declined. This is essentially a second opinion, if the second attorney believes the case should be filed, it will be filed.

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Juvenile Court

We are dedicated to the principle, that by giving priority to at-risk children, these children will be far less likely to become adult criminals. Because of that principle, we have two attorneys and 2 secretaries physically located at the Yuma County Juvenile Court Center. This attorney reviews all juvenile investigations and prosecutes these cases in Yuma County Juvenile Court. The Juvenile division filed 671 petitions in 2014.

An on-call prosecuting attorney responds to the Juvenile Court Center on weekends and holidays to review investigations for filing on juveniles in custody.

Our Juvenile Unit works hard to ensure communication with victims of offenses committed by juveniles. The following services are provided to victims by our Juvenile Prosecution Unit:

  • Send a letter with explanation to every victim on every felony juvenile investigation for which prosecution is declined.
  • The same type of letter must be sent to misdemeanor victims if the misdemeanor involved threats, assault or sex offenses.
  • Confer with crime victims whenever requested by the victim. This includes all victims of felonies and all victims of misdemeanors involving physical injury, threat of physical injury or a sex offense.
  • Re-review case investigations upon victim request. Upon written request of the victim, we assign an attorney, different from the attorney who initially reviewed the case, to re-review a case that has been declined. This is essentially a second opinion, if the second attorney believes the case should be filed, it will be filed.

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Community Justice

Neighborhood Justice Alliance
Senior Prosecuting Attorneys work closely with residents and businesses to develop innovative strategies for solving neighborhood crime and quality of life issues.
Our first Alliance is focused on the Carver Park neighborhood. This is the Carver Neighborhood Justice Alliance/Alianza de Justicia de la Vecindad. We are working in partnership with the City of Yuma's Department of Community Development and the Police Department, within this neighborhood.

County Attorney's Schools Initiative
Experienced prosecutors reach out to area schools to provide educational programs to students regarding crime, the criminal justice system, drugs, gangs and other crime-related issues. We are focusing our pilot program on the schools within the Carver Neighborhood area with plans to expand if resources are found. 

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Sexually Violent Persons

A specially trained Criminal Division Attorney handles proceedings under the Sexually Violent Person legislation. Under this legislation, if the Department of Corrections certifies a convicted felon as being a sexually violent person (formerly called "Sexual Predator"), then, prior to releasing that felon from prison, the County Attorney may file a Petition alleging that the person is a sexually violent person (highly likely to re-offend). This is a very time consuming and complex proceeding requiring court hearings, evidence and expert witnesses. The purpose of these proceedings is to keep the dangerous sex offender off the streets.

Asset Forfeiture

The Yuma County Attorney's Office files civil forfeitures against property of drug dealers and other serious "for profit" offenders. Thus, the ill-gotten gains of these criminals replace tax dollars to support law enforcement and prevention programs such as DARE. All forfeitures are done only by Superior Court Order, with all funds being deposited with the County Treasurer and disbursed by the County Finance Director. By law, the records pertaining to these forfeitures are public records and always have been. The amount of money in this fund has been dwindling because the criminals here have gotten smart — they do not pay cash for new cars or houses, they use old beat up cars or rentals to haul their drug loads and they do not leave huge sums of cash lying around.

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