Criminal Division Overview
The Criminal Division is the largest of four divisions in the King County Prosecutor's Office and is organized into several different units and sections. 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.
Criminal Division Units
The Appellate Unit ensures that felony convictions obtained by our office are upheld on appeal. The attorneys in this unit handle appeals in the Court of Appeals, the Washington State Supreme Court and the United States Supreme Court. The deputies working in the Appellate Unit also advise on complex legal issues that arise on the trial level.
Appellate Unit: 206-477-9497
CSU serves as a centralized hub for the collection and sharing of illegal shooting data throughout the County. While firearm homicides are generally known and tracked, nonfatal shootings and shootings not resulting in injury have not historically been tracked in a uniform manner. Not every agency routinely collects this data, and those that do have different definitions, coding mechanisms, and records management systems. As a result, the collection, cleaning, and standardization of this data by the CSU crime analyst is incredibly time and labor intensive.
In the context of illegal shootings, a public health approach addresses the questions of who is being shot; why are they being shot; and how can we prevent future shootings. Those are the questions that CSU has been working to answer and those which we hope to continue to work to address moving forward.
Click here to read more about CSU
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. To contact District Court call:
Seattle - West Division: 206-477-1290
MRJC - South Division: 206-477-2060
Redmond - East Division: 206-477-3150
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.
Domestic Violence Unit: 206-477-3742
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.
Economic Crimes Unit: 206-477-3733
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
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 a local in-patient mental health evaluation and treatment facility (Harborview Medical Center, Fairfax Hospital, Cascade Behavioral Health, Swedish Ballard Hospital, MultiCare Health System, in Auburn, the Geropsychiatric Center of Northwest Hospital or Navos Mental Health Solutions 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.
For frequently asked questions about the ITA Court, please visit: King County Superior Court Involuntary Treatment Act Court
Involuntary Treatment Act Unit: 206-744-7774
The Juvenile Court 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's First Hill neighborhood. Deputy Prosecuting attorneys handle a high volume of cases including violent crimes and sexual assaults.
Juvenile Court Unit: 206-477-3044
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.
Seattle Courthouse: 206-477-3735
Kent MRJC: 206-477-3755
The Sentencing Unit is responsible for the completion of criminal history, sentencing calculations, preparation of sentencing recommendations, as well as scheduling sentencing.
Kent MRJC: 206-205-7471 or 206-205-7472
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.
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.
Kent MRJC: 206-205-7411
Special Operations/Case Development Unit, King County Prosecutor’s Office
The objective of the Special Operations Unit is to provide assistance to police and prosecutors in a wide variety of matters, including covert, complex, technology-based and/or sensitive investigations, and all cases involving electronic surveillance. The scope of our work is detailed below:
- Cases Involving Electronic Surveillance
The Special Operations Unit assists in all cases utilizing statutorily authorized electronic surveillance techniques. We also work with law enforcement and other prosecuting offices to develop use protocols and supply training. These techniques are employed in a wide variety of investigations including homicide, sexual assault, prolific criminals, organized crime, and efforts to locate fugitives, missing persons and material witnesses.
- Narcotics Case Development
- Cyber Crimes
- Corruption / Public Officials
The Special Operations Unit is tasked with assisting law enforcement is investigations involving public corruption and other cases where public employees are a suspect in an investigation. Also those cases in which public officials are the victims of threats and harassment.
- Complex Investigation / Task Force
Spec Ops deputies are available to consult law enforcement in complex and long-standing investigations. Recent examples include sex trafficking, conspiracy to kill a police officer, a serial burglary ring, and a task force involving sophisticated jewelry thieves.
- Search Warrant Assist / Templates
- Emergency Matters
- Privileged Communications / Taint Team
The unit includes Case Development Deputies who are imbedded with local law enforcement and task force groups to provide real time and detailed legal assistance in combatting Drug Trafficking Organizations. The Case Development Deputies assist in developing legal strategies, reviewing search warrants, rush filing cases, and providing legal guidance on forfeiture issues.
The Spec Ops unit is also available to assist in investigations into cyber-related crimes. Recent investigations include Distributing Intimate Images (“revenge porn”), cyber stalking, cyber intrusions/data theft, and on-line harassment/death threats.
Special Operations deputies review a wide variety of search warrants and are available to assist in complex, technical or unusual warrants. Spec Ops has also maintains search warrant resources that are available to law enforcement and prosecutors including a variety of search warrant templates.
Special Operations deputies are on call 24/7 to provide immediate assistance in any of the above situations as well as to assist in efforts to locate missing and endangered persons.
Spec Ops deputies routinely provide training to law enforcement, prosecutors, 911 and dispatch operators, search and rescue personal and others on many of the topics listed above.
The Spec Ops unit is charged with assisting in cases implicating privilege matters. This often involves attorney/client communication discovered in jail phone calls and searches of areas where privileged material is like to be located such as law offices and jail cells.
For years, the United States spent staggering amounts of money to imprison people for low-level, non-violent crimes related to mental health issues, addictions, and substance abuse. Jails and prisons reached maximum capacity. Upon release, people re-offended and cycled back into the criminal justice system as recidivism rates remained high.
Criminal justice experts have turned to therapeutic courts to keep people out of prison while keeping communities safe. In King County, Regional Mental Health Courts, Regional Veterans Court, and CARD (Community Assessment and Referral for Diversion) are committed to helping people find and receive treatment and services.
L.E.A.D. Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion
Seattle’s Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion (LEAD) program is the first known pre-booking diversion program for people arrested on narcotics and prostitution charges in the United States. Launched in October 2011, LEAD is the product of a multi-year collaboration involving a wide range of organizations, including The Defender Association’s Racial Disparity Project, the Seattle Police Department, the ACLU of Washington, the King County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office, the Seattle City Attorney’s office, the King County Sheriff’s Office, Evergreen Treatment Services, the King County Executive, the Washington State Department of Corrections, and others.
Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion (LEAD) was developed with the community to address low-level drug and prostitution crimes in the Belltown and other downtown neighborhoods in Seattle and unincorporated King County. The program allows law enforcement officers to redirect low-level offenders engaged in drug or prostitution activity to community-based services, instead of jail and prosecution. By diverting eligible individuals to services, LEAD is committed to improving public safety and public order, and reducing the criminal behavior of people who participate in the program.
F.l.R.S. Family Intervention and Restorative Services
Before January 1, 2016, the intervention model for juvenile domestic violence (DV) cases was ineffective because services were not offered until after disposition (sentencing of the youth’s criminal matter) instead of when families needed them most, at or near the time of crisis. Although families that resorted to calling the police were typically seeking help for themselves and their child, they rarely wanted formal criminal charges filed against their child. Therefore, families generally withdrew from the system before disposition occurred and left dissatisfied and lacking the services they desperately needed.
Unlike adult court, juvenile DV rarely involves intimate partner violence. The vast majority of the cases involve youth acting out in ways against their parents or siblings that meet the legal definition of a crime. Most situations involve misdemeanor offenses, such as Assault 4, Harassment, or Malicious Mischief 3. Many of the youth struggle with substance abuse, trauma and mental health disorders. Although these families look to the juvenile justice system for help, almost none of them want their child to end up with a criminal record.
Photos courtesy of Creative Commons
"Car Accident," by Rian Castillo
"My Toys," (fingerprint analysis) by Carl Wycoff
"H & R .22 Revolver," by James Case
"Crime Scene," by Alan Cleaver
"Homeless," by Karim Corban
"Tyler Teenage Years," by Amber Ives
Subscribe to Our Newsletter
The Prosecutor's Post