Specialized Units

In addition to the General Case Prosecution Unit, there are a number of specialized units in the District Attorney's Office, where prosecutors focus exclusively on the investigation and/or prosecution of specific type crimes. Those units include the following.

Major Crimes Unit
Homicide investigations are extremely complex, and require prior approval of the District Attorney’s Office before such charges may be filed by police. When a major crime, homicide, or traffic fatality occurs anywhere in Lancaster County, these attorneys respond to the scene, assess the situation, provide legal advice, review all search / arrest warrants, and call out additional law enforcement officers from departments throughout the county to provide additional expertise and manpower when necessary.

This unit also consists of one attorney who works with a gang detective and Lancaster City Police to identify and prosecute those who are connected to gang-related activity. The five attorneys in this unit, who are on call 24/7 for investigative purposes, also prosecute those cases in court once charges are filed.

Special Victims Unit
In 2011, the District Attorney consolidated the Child Abuse Unit with the Domestic Violence Unit to form one Special Victims Unit. There are three attorneys who prosecute those who are charged with committing sexual assaults or crimes against young children. These attorneys become involved with police and a victim / witness advocate at the earliest stages of an investigation. Their prior approval is required before certain abuse charges may be filed. These attorneys will then follow that case through the court system.

Domestic violence prosecution is comprised of three attorneys, a county detective, and a victim / witness advocate. They also works closely with police departments throughout the county in the investigation and prosecution of those who commit domestic violence crimes, and prosecute individuals who violate protection from abuse (PFA) orders for indirect criminal contempt (ICC).

Appeals & Legal Services Unit
The Appellate Unit consists of three attorneys who represent the commonwealth at all levels of the appellate process in both state and federal court. This unit also supervises all post-conviction relief act proceedings, and every aspect of all federal habeas corpus litigation. Finally, the chief of this unit selects and supervises all law clerks and legal interns.

Felony Drug Prosecution Unit
There are five prosecutors assigned to this unit who are responsible for reviewing and approving all search warrants and criminal charges relating to felony drug cases. These attorneys also prosecute all felony drug cases that go to trial in the Court of Common Pleas.

General Trial Unit
These prosecutors handle all the cases which do not fall under any of the above specialized units. They prosecute DUIs, thefts, criminal trespass, white collar crime, and a great variety of other cases.

Juvenile Protection Unit
The District Attorney’s Office also prosecutes all juveniles charged with a crime in Juvenile Court. This unit has a permanent chief and the two less senior prosecutors in the office. They present cases to the court for disposition if the juvenile admits to the charges.

In the event the juvenile does not admit to the charge, an attorney will appear in court and present witness testimony. Additionally, this attorney is working in conjunction with juvenile probation and municipal police departments to establish and coordinate youth aid panels throughout the county, in an effort to divert nonviolent first offense juveniles from the court system.

Under youth aid panels, members of the community meet with the offending juvenile and devise a contract in which the youth agrees to certain conditions (such as community service or GED completion) in exchange for a dismissal of the charge. Nationwide and local statistics show that there is a very low recidivism rate for juveniles who are handled through a youth aid panels.