The Criminal Division prosecutes felonies committed by adults in Pima County, all crimes committed by juveniles within the county, and misdemeanor offenses committed outside of city limits. Pima County has one of the highest crime rates in the nation. Our crime index is 4,983 crimes per 100,000 population, exceeding both Maricopa County and the state average.

To protect public safety, the County Attorney makes it a priority to take violent offenders to trial. The goal is to ensure that they receive the maximum possible prison sentences, both to hold dangerous criminals fully accountable for their crimes and to remove them from the community for as long as possible.

Specialized felony units within the Criminal Division handle cases involving murder, assault, armed robbery, kidnapping, sexual assault, drug crimes, burglary, theft, domestic violence, and DUIs. Other units within the division handle misdemeanors, juvenile offenses, cold cases, appeals, and crime-related forfeitures of property. The Criminal Division also has established diversion programs for both adults and juveniles to help rehabilitate first-time, nonviolent offenders.

Division News
Pima County Attorney's Office announces new unit to focus on investigating claims of wrongful conviction
Pima County Attorney Barbara LaWall announced today the creation of the Pima County Attorney's Conviction Integrity Unit. To protect the citizens of Pima County and to ensure justice, this new unit will address claims of actual innocence, and also seek to prevent wrongful convictions from occuring.
Crime Stoppers USA Honors 88-CRIME, Inc.
Barbara LaWall, Pima County Attorney, is pleased to announce that 88-CRIME, Inc's Board Director, Dick Fisher, was honored by Crime Stoppers, USA with its Board Member of the Year award.
Two Pima County Deputy Attorneys Win Prestigious National Award
Pima County Attorney Barbara LaWall announced that Deputy County Attorneys Rick Unklesbay and Nicol Green, the veteran team of prosecutors who brought fugitive socialite Pamela Phillips to justice, were honored on Sunday, July 20th in Denver, Colorado at the National District Attorney’s Association annual board meeting with the prestigious Home Run Hitters Award for outstanding prosecution.
Inside the Criminal Division
Domestic Violence Unit
The Domestic Violence Unit handles both felonies and misdemeanors, the latter in a special domestic violence court. Using staff and victim advocates who are specially trained to address the unique concerns of victims of domestic violence, the Unit seeks to engage in early and meaningful contact with victims, achieve swift and certain accountability for offenders, and aggressively prosecute repeat offenders. Members of this Unit also actively participate in community groups such as the Pima County Domestic Violence Task Force, organized by Pima County Attorney Barbara LaWall, and the O’Connor House Domestic Violence Committee, organized by retired Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor.

The Domestic Violence Unit has collaborated with community partners to establish a comprehensive Domestic Violence Protocol to guide law enforcement officers, prosecutors, victim advocates, social service agencies, and the courts in handling all aspects of domestic violence cases. The Unit also works to prevent domestic violence, sponsoring and participating in events that raise awareness of domestic violence issues.

Read more about the Domestic Violence
Cold Case Unit

The Cold Case Unit coordinates with special investigative teams at the Tucson Police Department and the Pima County Sheriff's Department to solve and prosecute long-unsolved cases. Cases successfully prosecuted by this unit have involved homicides that had remained unsolved for as long as 20 years. The Pima County Attorney's Office is committed to bringing offenders to justice, no matter how long it may take. Solving cold cases not only delivers justice, it also brings closure to families whose lives have been shattered by murder.

Forfeiture Unit
When law enforcement agencies have seized from criminals property such as firearms, vehicles, real estate and cash that was used or acquired during illegal activity, this Unit obtains court orders that require forfeiture of the property to the state. The forfeited property or proceeds from auctions or sales of the property then can be used to aid law enforcement and prosecution agencies to fight crime. The Pima County Attorney's Office uses these forfeited funds -- known as "anti-racketeering" funds -- to purchase computer equipment and software, saving taxpayer dollars.
 Gang & Violent Crimes Unit
The Gang and Violent Crimes Unit prosecutes crimes committed by street gangs, ranging from murder and carjacking to drive-by shootings and home invasions. This unit also works closely with law enforcement agencies to identify gangs and their members in order to monitor gang activity in Pima County. The County Attorney's Office dedicates special effort to securing maximum prison time for offenders who use weapons to commit these crimes.

Read more about the Gang and Violent Crimes Unit
Homicide Unit
The Homicide Unit prosecutes the majority of the murder cases that occur in Pima County. In 2014, the Homicide Unit disposed of 87 cases. Fifty-seven defendants pled guilty. Eighteen were taken to trial, 13 of whom were found guilty.

High profile and more complicated homicides are assigned to senior attorneys with 15 to 30 years of prosecution experience. These attorneys work with newer prosecutors to help them gain experience in homicide prosecution. The prosecuting attorney is involved throughout the case, from being called to the scene at the beginning, through the defendant's sentencing. The Unit works with all local, state and federal law enforcement agencies in Pima County. A panel of senior prosecutors meets regularly to review the status of active homicide cases. The panel reviews such issues as whether a plea agreement may be appropriate in a particular case.

Juvenile Unit
The  Juvenile Unit prosecutes minors accused of criminal offenses. In fiscal year 2013-2014, the Juvenile Unit prosecuted 2,560 cases. The offenses charged included assaults, possession of marijuana and other illegal drugs, driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, possession of firearms, and other violent crimes. Less serious cases may be referred to the County Attorney's Juvenile Diversion program known as the Community Justice Boards.

Juvenile prosecutors also work closely with school administrators and school resource officers from law enforcement agencies, attending monthly meetings of the School Multi-Agency Response Team (S.M.A.R.T.).

Juvenile Justice Fast Facts Resource Guide
Misdemeanors Unit
This Unit prosecutes misdemeanors that occur in the unincorporated areas of Pima County, including Green Valley and Ajo. Misdemeanors are lower level crimes punishable by a fine and no more than six months in jail.

In fiscal year 2013-2014, the Misdemeanors Unit handled 20,880 cases, charging offenses including assault, DUI, domestic violence, theft, cruelty to animals, trespassing, and issuing bad checks.

Ajo Court House
Appeals Unit
The Appeals Unit is responsible for briefing and arguing criminal appeals in the Arizona Court of Appeals and Supreme Court. In an average year, the Unit represents the State in approximately 15 to 20 cases before the Arizona Supreme Court and over 100 cases in the Court of Appeals. The Unit also helps busy trial attorneys by writing other motions and memoranda and performing legal research when unique issues arise before and during trial. In addition, the Units appellate attorneys regularly conduct trainings for trial attorneys.

In 2010, the Appeals Unit successfully defended officers use of the Intoxilyzer 8000, a machine used in DUI investigations to measure breath alcohol concentration, against challenges by criminal defendants that its software was flawed. This appellate victory facilitates the ongoing efforts of law enforcement agencies and this Office to protect our community by holding drunk drivers accountable.
Narcotics Unit
The Narcotics Unit works with law enforcement officers in arresting drug dealers and seizing narcotics and dealer assets to get drugs off the streets. In 2014, the Narcotics Unit disposed of 2,312 cases. Of those, 2,150 defendants pled guilty. Sixty-one were taken to trial, 50 of whom were found guilty. The Unit encourages first-time offenders to use the innovative new Drug Court to help them treat their addiction. The Unit also participates in the County Attorney's new Drug Treatment Alternative to Prison (D.T.A.P.) Program, which provides residential drug treatment in lieu of prison time for addicts who have committed repeated, nonviolent drug offenses.

Property Crimes Unit
The Property Crimes Unit handles cases involving burglary, theft, fraud and embezzlement. In 2014, the Unit disposed of 1,986 cases. Guilty pleas were entered by 1,786 defendants. Fourty-two of the 59 defendants taken to trial were found guilty.

The County Attorney takes a hard stance on criminals who commit residential burglaries. As part of holding offenders responsible for their crimes, prosecutors in this unit seek full restitution for the victims. The County Attorney also looks for remedies for other financial losses suffered by the victims. The Property Crimes Unit works closely with the Victim Compensation Unit of the Victim Services Division .
Special Victims Unit (SVU)
The Special Victims Unit prosecutes sexual and physical abuse against adults and children, including sexual assaults, stalking, molestation, child abuse, and animal cruelty. These are among the most difficult, emotional, and disturbing crimes the County Attorney's Office prosecutes. The Office is dedicated to the aggressive and just prosecution of perpetrators of sexually motivated crimes against our most vulnerable citizens -- most frequently children, the elderly, and women. In 2014, the Special Victims Unit disposed of 187 cases involving sexual assault, sexual exploitation of children, and other sexual offenses. Of these, 146 defendants pled guilty, and 19 went to trial. Fourteen of those 19 were found guilty.

This Unit coordinates with numerous other agencies, including Southern Arizona Children's Advocacy Center, Las Familias Angel Center for Childhood Sexual Abuse Treatment, and the Pima County Animal Cruelty Task Force. The Pima County Attorney's Office also spearheaded the creation of a coordinated Sexual Assault Protocol and a Child Abuse Protocol for Pima County law enforcement and social service agencies.

All convicted sex offenders must register with the Sheriff's Department. Failure to register is a felony offense that is prosecuted by this Office. Information about where registered sex offenders reside in Pima County, by zip code, is available online at the Arizona Department of Public Safety website.
Vehicular Crimes Unit
The Vehicular Crimes Unit prosecutes felony including aggravated DUI, endangerment, child abuse, felony fleeing, leaving the scene of a collision, criminal damage, aggravated assault, and murder. In 2014, the Vehicular Unit disposed 284 cases. Guilty pleas were entered by 261 defendants. Of the 7 defendants who were taken to trial, 4 of them were found guilty.

Below is a retrospective montage from the TAC 20 Year Anniversary Campaign.
Video Courtesy of Transport Accident Commission Victoria.

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Homicide Unit
Cold Case Program
Special Victims Unit
Narcotics Unit
Property Crimes Unit
Vehicular Crimes Unit
Forfeiture Program
Juvenile Unit
Appeals Unit
Resource Center
32 N. Stone Avenue, Tucson, Arizona 85701