Can I report a crime to the District Attorney's Office?
In most cases, crimes must be reported to the police department or other law enforcement agency which has jurisdiction over the city or county where the crime occurred. For example, if the crime occurred in San Mateo, it should be reported to the San Mateo Police Department. There are, however, certain exceptions. Specifically, crimes involving consumer fraud or the unlawful discharge of hazardous materials may be reported to the District Attorney's Consumer and Environmental Protection Division. In addition, crimes involving misconduct by public officials may be reported to the District Attorney's Office in writing. Note, however, that reports of misconduct on the part of law enforcement officers should be reported to the internal affairs section or professional standards section of the law enforcement agency where the officer is employed.
I was cited and released by the police. Can you tell me if the DA filed charges against me?
To find out whether charges have been filed against you, telephone the DA's municipal court branch office located in the judicial district where the crime occurred. For example, if you were arrested for a crime that occurred in Millbrae, call the South San Francisco branch office.
Can I talk to Mr. Wagstaffe? I think he's the person who is working on my case.
Mr. Wagstaffe is the elected District Attorney of San Mateo County and, as such, his name appears on most court documents and office correspondence just above the name of the prosecutor who prepared the document. Therefore, the person who is working on your case is most likely the person who actually signed the court document or DA's Office correspondence.
I am a defendant, and I want to get a copy of the police report. How do I get a copy? Is there any cost?
If you are a defendant in a case, you or your attorney will be given a free copy of the police report in court when you are arraigned on the charges.
I am a defendant in a case and I can't seem to get in touch with my lawyer. Can I speak to your office?
All attorneys are governed by a code of ethics that prevents them from directly speaking to a person who is represented by an attorney. Therefore, any questions you have about your case must be answered by your own lawyer.
I am the victim in a domestic violence case and I want to drop charges. Can I do that?
The decision to drop charges in any criminal prosecution can only be made by a prosecutor with the approval of a judge. The victim's wishes alone shall not dictate whether or not a case will be filed or dismissed. If you would like to discuss your case, telephone the branch office that filed the charges.
I want a restraining order to keep my [husband/wife, boyfriend/girlfriend, or other person] away from me. Will the DA's Office do this for me?
No, but you can contact Bay Area Legal Aid - Restraining Order Clinic at (650) 358-0745. They are located at 1048 El Camino Real Suite A Redwood City.
I was the victim of a crime. Can you tell me the name of the defendant and the defendant's next court date?
The DA's Office can provide you with the name of the adult defendant and the next court date if we have filed charges against the defendant. To obtain this information, call the DA's branch office located in the judicial district where the crime occurred.
How can I get my property returned in a criminal case?
When a criminal case has been resolved our office sends a property release to the police agency that handled the case. You should contact that police agency. If they do not have a release on file contact our office and the attorney who handled the case can review your request and prepare a property release. In certain cases we are required to wait at least 60 days to see if an appeal is filed. If you are the victim, in many cases we can have your property photographed and returned to you. We do not authorize the release of firearms or other contraband to defendants after a conviction.
Where do I park as a witness in a criminal case?
See the Maps & Directions page on this site. Free parking is generally accessible in most locations. Parking in Redwood City is more limited and may require you to park at a meter. Any parking citations issued to you are your responsibility.
As a witness do I have to talk in front of the defendant in court?
The defendant must be present in court to hear what all the witnesses say about him/her. The lawyer for the defendant is called the defense attorney and will ask you questions after the prosecutor does.
Who will be with me in court?
You may bring friends or relatives with you to court, and they can probably sit in the courtroom while you testify, unless they are also witnesses. (Witnesses testify one at a time and generally wait outside the courtroom for their turn. This is called "sequestration.") Victims of sexual assault can also have a support person, such as a victim advocate, rape trauma counselor or a therapist.
How long will I be at court as a witness?
Your court room time, while actually testifying, may not take long; it depends upon many factors. Most of the time you will just be waiting for your turn to testify. You and your family and friends are encouraged to bring a book or magazine to read while you wait.
What if I can't attend court as a witness on the date stated in the subpoena?
If you have a date conflict, you should contact the prosecutor immediately to discuss your conflict. In some cases, the prosecutor handling the case can put you "on call" (so that you can go to work or school on the day you are subpoenaed, and you will be called at a pre-arranged phone number an hour or so before you are needed in court) .
I was the victim of a violent crime. Will the DA's Office pay for my hospital bill? Will the DA's Office help me collect for lost wages and for pain and suffering?
Regarding medical expenses and loss wages, the DA's office may be able to assist you if you do not have medical coverage. In such a situation, you can contact the District Attorney's Victim/Witness Assistance Program (650) 599-7479, and ask about filing a claim with the Victim Compensation Board (violent crimes only),and/or request that restitution be ordered by the Court at the time of sentencing. With regards to compensation for pain and suffering, you would need to contact a private attorney. If you cannot afford a lawyer, you may call the Legal Aid Society of San Mateo County at (650) 558-0915.
In court the judge ordered the defendant to pay restitution to me. But so far I haven't received anything. Who can help me?
You may call the Probation Department at (650) 363-4244, or contact the District Attorney's Victim-Witness Assistance Program at (650) 599-7479.
I want to find out what prison an inmate is at and when he will be released. Who should I contact?
As a victim you can ask which prison facility an inmate is house at, and his/her expected parole date, by calling the California Department of Corrections & Rehabilitation (CDCR) - Office of Victim Services (877) 256-6877. You can also request Notification of Inmate Status in Prison (release, escape, death and/or criminal appeal), Conditions of Parole for inmate and Restitution (there must be a court order) by completing a CDCR 1707 Form.
http://www.cdcr.ca.gov/Victim_Services/application.html Select from list on right:Request for Victim Services (CDCR Form 1707)
I have questions about a small claims case. Who can help me?
You can contact:
The Clerk's office is open for your convenience from 8:00 A.M. to 4:00 P.M. Monday through Friday. They do not close at noon. If you have a new case to file, you need to arrive at the clerk's office no later than 3:30 P.M. to allow time to process your claim.
I have a complaint about my attorney. Who do I contact?
Please contact the State Bar of California located in San Francisco at:
I need child support. Can you help me?
Contact the San Mateo County Department of Child Support Services may be able to help. You can also reach them at (650) 366-8221.
I think a [contractor, tradesman, shopkeeper, other person who provides labor or services], has cheated me. Can the DA's Office help me?
The DA's Consumer Protection Division may be able to help, or they may refer you to an agency that can help you. You should send your complaint in writing to:
I want a divorce. [Or, I want to sue someone. Or, I want to adopt a child.] Can the DA's Office help me?
No. The District Attorney's Office cannot provide legal advice or take legal action in such matters. You should consult with your lawyer. If you do not have a lawyer, you can call the Lawyer Referral Service, which is operated by the San Mateo County Bar Association. The phone number is (650) 369-4149.
Where should I go to get legal advice on personal matters?
You should contact a private attorney.
What if I have a question which is not answered in your FAQs?
Call or visit our office. However, the San Mateo County District Attorney's Office is not a "free legal clinic" or a clearinghouse of legal information. We cannot give legal advice on private legal issues.