Public Safety Division
The Public Safety Division is the District government’s prosecutorial agency for local crimes, including almost all offenses committed by juveniles. The Division also prosecutes certain adult misdemeanor cases. The Domestic Violence and Mental Health Sections protect victims of domestic violence, incapacitated adults who are being abused, and mentally ill adults who need emergency psychiatric care.
The Division is organized into four sections.
The Juvenile Section prosecutes juveniles (individuals under the age of 18) for criminal offenses that occur in the District. The Section
- Handles criminal offenses and offenses that can only be committed by a juvenile (for example, truancy).
- Prosecutes adults who are responsible for the truancy of their children.
- 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.
The Criminal Section prosecutes adults who commit the following types of misdemeanor criminal offenses within the District:
- Traffic offenses.
- Weapons offenses.
- Quality-of-life offenses.
- Municipal regulation offenses.
- Fraud against the District.
The Domestic Violence & Special Victims Section focuses on protecting sexual assault survivors, domestic violence survivors, and vulnerable victims of crime. The section consists of three teams:
- Domestic Violence Team
- Special Victims Team
- Elder Abuse Team
Mental Health Section
The Mental Health Section works to protect residents of the District from harm by facilitating access to mental health treatment. The Section connects individuals to treatment in two ways:
- The Section can seek involuntary detention for emergency mental health treatment and civil commitment of people who refuse voluntary treatment and, as a result, are likely to injure themselves or others.
- The Section can seek 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. In particular, a guardian can consent to the use of medication, medical examination and procedures, and can assist in obtaining housing or benefits for incapacitated individuals.
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 suffering from mental illness to seek voluntary treatment.
- 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 in order to promote the treatment of individuals in the least restrictive manner that is consistent with the safety of the public.