The Criminal Division is the largest of three divisions in the King County Prosecutor's Office and is organized into several different units and sections. At the core of the attorney structure is an Executive Committee comprising the Division Chief and senior deputy prosecutors representing the major units in the Division. This Executive Committee manages the processing of the thousands of cases which pass through this division. The Criminal Division represents the state and the county in criminal matters in the King County District and Superior courts, the state and federal courts of appeal, and the Washington and U.S. Supreme Courts.
The major units of the Criminal Division are:
The Appellate Unit handles most appeals and Personal Restraint Petitions (PRP's) in the Court of Appeals and the Washington State Supreme Court that arise from convictions in the King County Superior Court. The deputies on the Appellate Unit also consult with other deputies in the Criminal Division on complex legal issues.
Car Theft Initiative
In response to the influx of car thefts in King County, in 2005 our office created a Car Theft Initiative Unit (CTI). This unit is dedicated to the prosecution of rampant car thieves in our county. Working very closely with law enforcement, CTI has identified and prosecuted some of the most prolific car thieves in the state. Since its formation, the CTI Unit has been credited with helping significantly reduce car theft in King County. In 2008 there were 8,349 reported car thefts, which is a decrease of 53% from 2005 when there were 17,694 reported car thefts.
District Court Unit
The District Court Unit is responsible for screening and prosecuting all criminal traffic and misdemeanor cases arising in unincorporated King County. It also handles appeals to the Superior Court from convictions in District Court. District Court can be reached at: 206-296-9540.
Domestic Violence Unit
In the 1990s, the number of domestic violence felony cases in King County doubled from approximately 740 in 1994 to over 1500 in 1999. In response to this alarming trend, the King County Prosecutor's Office created the Domestic Violence Unit in early 2000. Organized into six areas at four different locations, the Domestic Violence Unit is responsible for handling all domestic violence felonies in King County, all misdemeanor and gross misdemeanor domestic violence cases from unincorporated areas, as well as providing criminal advocacy services on all domestic violence cases and protection order advocacy to several thousand victims annually.
In addition to a high volume and intense trial practice, the Domestic Violence Unit engages in many innovative practices from utilizing new technologies in investigations, King County Firearms Forfeiture Project, to working with law enforcement and local domestic violence advocacy organizations to promote a coordinated community response. The Domestic Violence Unit was a founding partner in the domestic violence courts in District Court, and the specialized domestic violence case management system in Superior Court. The mission of the Domestic Violence Unit is to break the cycle of domestic violence by increasing accountability for domestic violence offenders and improving safety for victims of domestic violence and their children.
Drug Case Development
A collaborative effort between police and prosecutors evolved into the Drug Case Development Section. This section provides legal advice and assistance to four law enforcement agencies: Seattle Police Department, King County Police, South King County Task Force and Eastside Task Force.
In 1994, the office, along with Superior Court, created an alternative to traditional prosecution for drug possession crimes. Defendants are offered an opportunity to enter a court-monitored drug treatment program. If they successfully complete the one-year program, the charges are dismissed. If they fail the program, they are returned to the court for a stipulated trial and sentencing. For more information, visit this link.
Economic Crimes Unit
Cases handled by the Economic Crimes Unit cover a wide range of crimes from simple thefts and narcotics cases to complex organized criminal activity, including: public corruption, abuse of office, employee thefts, insurance frauds, environmental crimes, investment frauds, mortgage frauds, aggravated consumer frauds, frauds against the elderly and vulnerable victims, frauds against government, and technology crimes. They also maintain a focus on prosecuting the top Identity Theft offenders in the county. To contact the Economic Crimes Unit call: 206-296-9010. For tips to prevent becoming an identity theft victim, visit this link.
Involuntary Treatment Act Unit
The Involuntary Treatment Act Unit (ITA) handles involuntary mental health treatment commitment cases. Persons with mental illness who present a risk to themselves or others may be detained involuntarily and placed into one of four local in-patient mental health treatment facilities (Harborview Medical Center, Fairfax Hospital, the Gero-psychiatric Unit of Northwest Hospital, and Navos In-patient Services). The set of laws which allows this is called the Involuntary Treatment Act. The initial detention is for up to 72 hours. If the treating facility believes further in-patient treatment is necessary, the facility petitions the court for more time for involuntary treatment. The patient can contest the need for the detention and treatment, and is entitled to a full hearing governed by the rules of evidence. By statute, the Prosecuting Attorney's Office is charged with representing the treatment facility seeking longer involuntary treatment. These proceedings are considered to be civil, rather than criminal, proceedings.
The courtroom for ITA proceedings is located on the second floor of the Ninth and Jefferson Building, across the street from Harborview Medical Center. ITA Court should not be confused with criminal mental health courts, which are run by either the King County District Court or Seattle Municipal Court and are part of the criminal justice system.
The Juvenile Unit is responsible for the prosecution of all juvenile offenders in King County. It is responsible for case processing and the prosecution of all felonies and misdemeanors committed by persons under the age of eighteen.
The office of the Juvenile Section is located at the King County Department of Youth Services Complex in Seattle. Deputy Prosecuting attorneys handle a high volume of cases including violent crimes and sexual assaults. To contact the Juvenile Unit call: 206-296-9025.
Most Dangerous Offender Project
The Most Dangerous Offender Project (MDOP) is comprised of Senior Deputies who are available seven days a week, 24 hours a day, to respond to every homicide scene in King County. The responding deputy works as part of an investigation team, which includes the detectives, the medical examiner, and forensic scientists. The deputy responding to the homicide scene assumes immediate responsibility for the prosecution -- preparing search warrants, coordinating the efforts of law enforcement and forensic scientists, and offering legal advice to investigators. This deputy's responsibility includes the charging decision and extends to all subsequent legal proceedings from arraignment through trial to sentencing.
Records and Information Section
The Records and Information Section is responsible for maintaining Criminal Division files and records. It is also an information dispensing service for the public and other agencies within the criminal justice system. To contact the Records Unit in Seattle call: 206-296-9480. For the Records Unit at the Maleng Regional Justice Center call: 206-205-7485.
Repeat Burglar Initiative
Formed in 2009, the Repeat Burglar Initiative (RBI) is a unit dedicated to reducing crime rates by focusing on the most prolific burglars in our community. The RBI program is modeled on our office's successful efforts to reduce car theft and uses many of the same approaches to reduce crime rates, including "stacking" cases and ensuring that offenders stay in custody pending trial. The RBI unit also works to build relationships with police agencies to encourage thorough burglary investigations and more prompt filing of cases, and raises community awareness of burglary prevention.
The Sentencing Unit is responsible for the completion of criminal history, sentencing calculations, preparation of sentencing recommendations, as well as scheduling sentencing. To contact the Sentencing Unit in Seattle call: 206-296-9531. For the Sentencing Unit at the Maleng Regional Justice Center call: 206-205-7471 or 206-205-7472.
Sexually Violent Predator Unit
The Sexually Violent Predator Unit prosecutes civil commitments under RCW 71.09. In addition to handling initial commitment trials, the unit handles all appeals, annual reviews and conditional release trials associated with the commitment. The unit has developed a national reputation in the civil commitment of sexually violent predators and has been in the forefront of defending such commitment laws against constitutional challenge.
Special Assault Unit
The King County Prosecutor's Office prides itself for creating one of the first specialized units in the country to deal exclusively with cases involving the sexual and physical abuse of children, as well as sexual offenses against adults. Specially trained prosecutors, who are uniquely qualified to deal with the complex and sensitive nature of these cases, staff the Special Assault Unit at both the downtown courthouse and the Maleng Regional Justice Center.
A highly skilled forensic interviewer is available at both sites to assist law enforcement with interviewing children. The interview specialist, having received a Masters in Social Work, employs research-based interview techniques designed to achieve accuracy and objectivity.
Since its creation, the King County Prosecutor's Office Special Assault Unit has worked collaboratively with law enforcement, Child Protective Services and local advocacy groups. In 2000, the King County Special Assault Network Protocol, which provides guidance and structure for investigators of sexual assault, became the model for State mandated protocols. To contact the Special Assault Unit in Seattle call: 206-296-9470. For the Special Assault Unit at the Maleng Regional Justice Center call: 206-205-7411.
Violent Crimes Unit
The Violent Crimes Unit was created to more successfully target and prosecute the violent offenders in our community. The deputies in the unit work closely with law enforcement in the investigation and prosecution of violent criminals, recognizing the significant impact these offenders have on their victims and the community as a whole. As the name suggests, the deputies in this unit prosecute felony cases which are violent in nature, including assaults, firearm offenses, robberies, arson, burglaries, etc. The unit increasingly focuses on those repeat offenders who have proven themselves to be a continuing threat to the safety of the community. Finally, this unit also has experienced Senior Deputies dedicated to prosecuting vehicular homicide/assault cases and felony DUIs, recognizing the particular threat these offenders pose on our public thoroughfares.