Public Safety Division
The Public Safety Division handles all cases where young people commit a law violation in the District of Columbia and prosecutes selected adult misdemeanor cases. The Domestic Violence and Special Victims Section protects victims of domestic violence, and incapacitated adults who are being abused, and the Mental Health Section represents the Department of Behavioral Health in protecting residents of the District from harm by facilitating access to mental health treatment, obtaining guardians for incapacitated adults, and prosecuting Red Flag cases. The Restorative Justice Section facilitates conferences between young people who commit crime and the victim, where the victim is interested. The Public Corruption Section prosecutes offenses related to fraud that undermine the public trust.
The Division is organized into six sections.
The Juvenile Section prosecutes young people (individuals under the age of 18) for violations of the D.C. Code. The primary goal of the Juvenile Section is to fight for justice for crime victims while, at the same time, ensuring that youthful offenders are held accountable for their actions and given services to help direct their lives in a positive direction. The Section:
- Handles violations of the criminal code by people under 18 and offenses that can only be committed by a young person (for example, truancy).
- Works with other city agencies on the unique challenges that face juveniles.
- Develops and implements effective measures to safeguard the community and to rehabilitate youthful offenders.
Juvenile Specialty Courts Unit (JSCU)
- matters involving parents who fail to enroll, immunize, and/or ensure daily and on time attendance of their elementary school aged children.
- OAG’s diversion program for parents facing criminal charges for truancy , called ATTEND (Addressing Truancy Through Engagement and Negotiated Dialogue).
- Person in Need of Supervision (PINS) cases- cases against youth involving truancy and runaway.
- Matters in the Juvenile Behavioral Diversion Program, a Court program that addresses matters involving youth with mental health needs.
The Criminal Section prosecutes adults who commit the following types of misdemeanor criminal violations of the D.C. Code:
- Traffic offenses.
- Weapons offenses.
- Quality-of-life offenses.
- Municipal regulation offenses.
- Fraud against the District.
Domestic Violence & Special Victims Section
The Domestic Violence & Special Victims Section focuses on protecting sexual assault survivors, domestic violence survivors, and vulnerable victims of crime. The section consists of attorneys, advocates, and support staff comprising three teams that perform specialized functions:
- Domestic Violence Team
- Special Victims Team
- Elder Abuse Team
Restorative Justice Section
The Restorative Justice Program is staffed by trained full-time restorative justice facilitators who offer restorative justice dialogues (called restorative justice conferences) to interested victims of crime and the young people who commit those crimes in the District of Columbia.
The Restorative Justice Program is a victim-centered approach to addressing crime that promotes accountability and behavior change in young people who commit crime. Restorative Justice is a central part of OAG’s juvenile justice reform strategy. It functions as an alternative to traditional prosecution for youth charged with criminal offenses and victims who have been harmed. The goals of each restorative justice dialogue are to provide victims with greater voice and agency in the process; to build empathy, accountability, and behavior change in youth; and to resolve the conflict to ensure that it never happens again. OAG’s Restorative Justice Program continues to be the only such program located in a prosecutor’s office in the country. We believe a juvenile justice system focused on accountability, human dignity, and grace can be effective and more racially just. Restorative Justice:
- provides victims of crime with agency and aids healing and closure.
- helps offenders change their behavior by building empathy and consequential thinking.
- promotes racial justice by countering the stigmatizing effects of the justice system on youth.
Over the past year OAG’s Restorative Justice Program has focused almost exclusively on serious, violent youth crime. For youth involved in such serious matters, we now require that in addition to successfully completing the restorative justice component, they must also complete a course of 8-10 weekly group cognitive behavioral therapy sessions, a proven behavior change intervention. OAG has partnered with trauma-informed, community-based, and culturally competent therapists to provide the cognitive behavioral therapy.
Public Corruption Section
The recently formed Public Corruption Section focuses on eradicating public corruption—including, but not limited to, bribery, fraud, campaign finance violations, and other forms of misuse and appropriation of government resources. The Section investigates and charges local offenses within its jurisdiction that impact the integrity of government services and undermine public trust.
Mental Health Section
The Mental Health Section works to protect residents of the District from harm by facilitating access to mental health treatment. Through its robust litigation practice, the Section connects individuals to treatment and supports by:
- seeking involuntary detention for emergency mental health treatment and civil commitment of people who refuse voluntary treatment and are likely to injure themselves or others; and
- seeking the appointment of a guardian and/or conservator for persons believed to be incapacitated and in need of a decision-maker to assist in making choices about their mental health or medical treatment. A guardian can consent to the use of medication, medical examination and procedures, and can assist in obtaining housing or other benefits for incapacitated individuals.
- The Section also prosecutes cases pursuant to the Red Flag law to remove firearms from individuals who may present a danger to others or themselves.
The Mental Health Section performs a variety of other critical functions, including:
- Educating the public about OAG’s role in protecting public safety and the free services available to residents seeking mental health treatment, and encouraging people who need mental health treatment to seek it.
- Working with the United States Attorney’s Office to ensure that individuals arrested for criminal behavior, but who are legally incompetent to be prosecuted because of mental illness, are evaluated for their appropriateness for civil commitment.
- Coordinating with Victim Witness Specialists to assist victims in mental health cases and to provide support for witnesses.
- Training hospital personnel, mental health service providers, Department of Behavioral Health employees, and the Metropolitan Police Department about the legal process for and the civil rights of individuals detained for involuntary mental health treatment.
- Providing legal advice to the Department of Behavioral Health and its subcontractors to promote the treatment of individuals in the least restrictive manner that is consistent with the safety of the public.
Learn more about the Public Safety Division