FAQs

What is the District Attorney’s jurisdiction?

The Contra Costa District Attorney's Office prosecutes felony and misdemeanor crimes throughout Contra Costa County. The jurisdiction covers 802.15 square miles, including river and Delta Water areas. This area stretches from the western area of Richmond, to the eastern areas of Discovery Bay and Bethel Island and North from Martinez to South to San Ramon and Blackhawk. We serve a population of just over 1 million people (as of 2010 census)


Can I report a crime to the DA's Office?

In most cases, crimes must be reported to the police department or other law enforcement agency that has jurisdiction over the city or county where the crime occurred. For example, if the crime occurred in Richmond, it should be reported to the Richmond Police Department. However, there are certain exceptions. Crimes involving consumer fraud or the unlawful discharge of hazardous materials may be reported to the District Attorney's Consumer Protection or Environmental Protection Units. Crimes involving misconduct by public officials may be reported to the District Attorney's Government Corruption Unit. Note, that police misconduct should be reported to the internal affairs section or professional standards section of the law enforcement agency with which the officer is employed.


How do I get a copy of a police report?

Contact the police agency that created the report to obtain a copy. A list of police agencies in the county can be found here.


Can you provide me with legal advice?

No. By law, The District Attorney's Office cannot answer legal questions or offer legal advice (California Business & Professions Code section 6131).


Can I talk to Mark Peterson? I think he's the person who is working on my case.


Mr. Peterson is the District Attorney of Contra Costa County and his name appears on all court documents just above the name of the prosecutor who prepared the document. In addition, Mr. Peterson’s name appears on most DA's Office correspondence just above the signature of the employee who wrote the letter. The person who is working on your case is most likely the person who actually signed the court document or DA's Office correspondence.


If I get a subpoena do I have to go to court?

Yes, you must go to court. If you fail to do so, the judge may impose a fine or a jail sentence. Be sure to bring your subpoena with you to court. Subpoenaed witnesses should call the number on their subpoena the day before the hearing to make sure they are still needed for court.


Why am I a witness? I didn't see the crime happen.

Witnesses are not limited to eyewitnesses. You may not have seen the crime happen but you may know something about it. You may also know something about a piece of evidence, or you may know something that contradicts another witness's testimony. If you wonder why you are testifying in a particular case, ask the prosecutor handling it. There is probably a common-sense reason. You can contact the prosecutor handling your case by calling the number on your subpoena.


As a witness, do I have to talk in front of the defendant in court?

Yes. 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.


Is the District Attorney my attorney or do I need to get my own attorney?

The District Attorney represents the People of the State of California in criminal court. The district attorney does not have authority to prosecute civil cases on behalf of individual citizens.


If I miss work to testify, will the District Attorney pay for my loss in wages or get witness fees?

No. Witnesses must go to court to testify about matters that they have knowledge of. It is a civic duty imposed upon all citizens in order to insure a just and fair judicial system. Witness fees are not usually given except when a witness lives 150 miles or more from court.


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 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 or the main number at 925-957-2200.


How do I verify if a business is operating legitimately or if it has been the subject of complaints?

The Better Business Bureau provides information about businesses and consumer complaints. 


Where do I go to make a complaint about a problem with a privately retained attorney?

The California State Bar Association takes complaints against attorneys, investigates those complaints, and prosecutes/disciplines attorneys. The District Attorney's Consumer Protection Unit investigates and prosecutes unauthorized practitioners of law, including non-attorneys posing as attorneys and attorneys who have been disbarred.


I think I have been cheated by a [contractor, tradesman, shopkeeper, other person who provides labor or services]. Can the DA's Office help me?

The DA’s Consumer Protection Unit may be able to help, or they may refer you to an agency that can help you.  Complaints must be in writing. You can  download a complaint form here and mail it back to the Unit .


I am a merchant or store owner. Can the DA's Office help me collect on a bad check?

The DA's Office participates in the Bad Check Restitution Program which may be able to help you. For further assistance visit the Bad Check Restitution web site here.


I want a divorce or I want to sue someone. 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 Contra Costa County Bar Association. Their phone number is 925-825-5700. If you cannot afford a lawyer you may call Bay Area Legal Aid at 800-551-5554 or  the Contra Costa Senior Legal Services at 510-374-3304.

 
I want a restraining order to keep my [partner, spouse, significant other or another person] away from me. Will the DA's Office do this for me?

No, but a private attorney may be able to help you. If you do not have a lawyer, you can call the Lawyer Referral Service which is operated by the Contra Costa County Bar Association. Their phone number if 925-825-5700. If you cannot afford a lawyer you may call the Bay Area Legal Aid at 800-551-5554 or Contra Costa Senior Legal Services at 510-374-3304. You, yourself, may be able to obtain a restraining order. You can obtain a packet of documents for this purpose from the Contra Costa County Clerk's Office located at the County Courthouse at 725 Court Street, Martinez, CA.


I need child support. Can you help me? Who can I talk to about wages garnished for child support?

The CCC Department of Child Support Services (DCSS) is responsible for establishing, collecting and distributing child support and garnishing wages. Please contact them at their website or call them at 866-901-3212 or visit them at: 50 Douglas Drive, Suite 100, Martinez CA 94553.