What Does the District Attorney Do?

Watch this video to learn about the many facets of how we approach our duty to protect our community:

Video: "What Does the D.A. Do?"


The District Attorney's Office

District Attorney Dan Dow is the elected public prosecutor for the County of San Luis Obispo.  As the public prosecutor, the District Attorney shall attend the courts, and within his or her discretion shall initiate and conduct on behalf of the people all prosecutions for public offenses. (Cal. Gov. C. 26500).  District Attorney Dow leads the office staff of 100 employees which makes the District Attorney's Office the largest law firm in San Luis Obispo County. The office is located in the County Courthouse Annex Building at 1035 Palm Street in the city of San Luis Obispo.

The District Attorney has the mandated responsibility, under Government Code Section 26500 et seq, to investigate, evaluate and prosecute criminal violations committed within the county, to provide legal assistance to criminal investigations conducted by law enforcement agencies operating within the county, and to advise the Grand Jury.

Our office receives information in the form of police reports from local law enforcement agencies after an investigation has concluded that a California criminal law has been violated. The police reports are logged in to our case management system and assigned to various Deputy District Attorneys within the office for review and for consideration of filing criminal charges. In some cases, when deemed appropriate, the matter is also assigned to a District Attorney Investigator for additional investigation.  In some cases, our office returns the investigation to the referring agency with a request that they conduct further investigation to answer additional questions and to resubmit the case to the District Attorney's Office once completed. 

Daily operations are supervised by the Assistant District Attorney, three Chief Deputy District Attorneys, the Chief of the Bureau of Investigations, and the Director of Victim/Witness Assistance. A staff of 38 Deputy District Attorneys prosecutes felony, misdemeanor, juvenile and certain limited civil cases. All criminal cases are prosecuted in the main courthouse of the Superior Court located at 1050 Monterey Street in San Luis Obispo. The District Attorney's Office is not involved in Traffic Court.

The assigned Deputy District Attorney is responsible to manage all aspects of the case beginning with the initial appearance of the defendant through the final sentencing of the defendant. Our office has two attorneys assigned to handle the civil commitment of "Mentally Disordered Offenders" who are patients at Atascadero State Hospital regardless of where their crime was committed amongst the 58 counties in the State of California. Our office is also responsible for civil commitment proceedings regarding Sexually Violent Predators who committed their offenses within San Luis Obispo County.