Van De Kamp, 033183 CAAGO, AGO 82-1006
|Docket Nº:||AGO 82-1006|
|Case Date:||March 31, 1983|
"The Child Abuse Reporting Law is designed to supply child protective agencies promptly with information of suspected misconduct against children so that those agencies may take timely action if necessary to protect the children."The strong public policy which favors the dissemination of child abuse information to those persons and agencies with a duty to act on behalf of a child was emphasized in our opinions. The California Supreme Court, in Barela v. Superior Court (198l) 30 Cal.3d 244, acknowledged this policy and held that a landlord could not evict a tenant who complained to the police that the landlord had molested the tenant's child, noting at page 254:
"The public policy served in this case is clear and even more compelling. The landlord here was accused of a sexual assault on a child. The state has repeatedly emphasized that its citizens have a duty to protect children from sexual abuse. (See, e.g., Pen. Code § 11166 [adults who work with children must report suspected cases of child abuse to the police, the sheriff, the probation department or the welfare department].)"In our earlier opinions we outlined the numerous statutes designed to afford protection for child-victims of crime. The Legislature recently enacted the Roberti-Imbrecht-Rains-Goggin Child Sexual Abuse Prevention Act which, inter alia, enhanced the punishments for sex crimes against children. (Pen. Code, §§ 288, 667.51, 1203.065, 1203.066; see also Pen. Code, §§ 266h, 266j, 311.4 and 999e.) Moreover, in last year's funding of the Office of Child Abuse Prevention (Stats. 1982, ch. 1398, § 1, p. 1134) the Legislature made these findings and declarations:
"(a) Children are a precious resource in this country and in this state. "(b) Persons abused and neglected as children are prone to commit violent crimes as adults. "(c) Child abuse and neglect prevention and intervention programs help protect children, stabilize families, and contribute to the reduction of crime."(See also Health & Saf. Code, § 10605 and Welf. & Inst. Code, §§ 18965-18970 (funds for county child abuse prevention and intervention programs); Pen. Code, § 11107 (sheriff and police reports to California Department of Justice of suspected sexual exploitation of children); and Pen. Code, §§ 13516, 13836 and 13837 (training of district attorneys and others in the investigation and prosecution of child sexual abuse cases).) We turn now to the duties of the district attorney. Hicks v. Board of Supervisors (1977) 69 Cal.App.3d 228, 240-241, discussed the authority and functions of a district attorney:
"1. The district attorney is the public prosecutor, vested with the power to conduct on behalf of the people all prosecutions for public offenses. (Gov. Code, § 26500.) Except for the power of the electorate to remove him, his performance of these functions is subject only to the supervision of the Attorney General. (Cal. Const., art. V, § 13.) "The discretionary power vested in the district attorney to control the institution of criminal proceedings may not be controlled by the courts (People v. Municipal Court, 27 Cal.App.3d 193, 207 [103 Cal.Rptr. 645, 66 A.L.R.3d 717]), and it may not be conferred on another by the board of supervisors (County of Modoc v. Spencer, 103 Cal. 498, 500-501 [37 P. 483]). The district attorney is charged with the responsibility of assisting and advising the grand jury in its investigation into criminal matters (Gov. Code, § 26501; Pen. Code, § 917) and no one may institute criminal proceedings without the concurrence, approval, or authorization of the district attorney (Gov. Code, § 26501; Rosato v. Superior Court, 51 Cal.App.3d 190, 226 [124 Cal.Rptr. 427]). "2. Investigation and the gathering of evidence relating to criminal offenses is a responsibility which is inseparable from the district attorney's prosecutorial function. That the district attorney is charged with the duty of investigation as well as prosecuting criminal activity has been recognized by an unbroken line of California cases. In Cunning v. County of Humboldt, supra, 204 Cal. 31, it was held that under section 4307 (repealed) of the Political Code [footnote omitted] a district attorney had authority to employ persons to assist in the detection of crime and the gathering of evidence to be used in the prosecution of criminal cases, and that the claim for such services was a valid charge against the county even though not approved by the board of supervisors. (Id., at pp. 32-33; see also Cunning v. Carr, 69 Cal.App. 230, 235 [230 P. 987].) "In Pearson v. Reed, 6 Cal.App.2d 277 [44 P.2d 592], dealing with a prosecutor's immunity from civil liability, it was held that the district attorney's function in determining whether to institute criminal proceedings is discretionary, that his authority to investigate the facts before acting is unlimited, and that the matter rests in his own discretion. (Id., at p. 286; see also People v. Municipal Court, supra 27 Cal.App.3d 193, 207.)"Accordingly, there can be no serious question as to the duty of the district attorney to investigate and...
To continue readingFREE SIGN UP