The State of Florida is represented in 20 judicial circuits by the elected State Attorneys. The Ninth Circuit State Attorney’s Office serves Orange and Osceola counties. The primary role of the State Attorney is to represent the State of Florida in the criminal court system. The State Attorney reviews criminal investigations conducted by law enforcement, decides if criminal charges are necessary and then presents the cases in criminal court.
Our team is made up of more than 140 prosecutors who work with our support staff and investigators to serve the nearly 1.4 million citizens living in the Greater Orlando area. In addition to overseeing the third-largest circuit in the state, the Ninth Circuit State Attorney’s Office also protects many of the 50 million tourists that visit Central Florida each year. On average we receive about 100,000 cases a year from law enforcement.
We are committed to returning each phone call, email and letter when possible. A successful prosecution is made up of many factors but a very important one is the cooperation of victims and witnesses. The State Attorney has several resources available to help victims and witnesses navigate the criminal court system. Quite often victims and witnesses have questions about how the system works and what to expect. Our victim advocates and witness coordinators can provide you with information, support and direction throughout the judicial process.
What We Do
As employees of the State Attorney, we are all part of a number of agencies and institutions collectively known as the Criminal Justice System. Understanding this system, the way it works, and the role of this office within it, gives us a sense of appreciation for the vital role we play in the safety and protection of society.
Purpose – The basic purpose of the Criminal Justice System and this office is to bring to justice those guilty of committing crimes and exonerating those mistakenly accused of committing crimes.
Types of Crime – There are basically three types or classifications of crime that are dealt with by the Criminal Justice System: Felonies – Crimes that are punishable by imprisonment for more than one year in the State Department of Corrections. Examples include murder, sexual battery, burglary, and grand thefts; Misdemeanors – Crimes that are punishable by imprisonment for up to one year in the county jail. Examples include petit theft, simple battery, prostitution and trespasses; and Criminal Traffic Offenses – Specifically listed violations of the traffic laws punishable by imprisonment of up to one year in the county jail. Examples include driving under the influence, reckless driving, driving on a suspended driver’s license. Within the Ninth Judicial Circuit, there are 12 municipal police departments, two Sheriff’s offices, and various state and federal law enforcement agencies. While most of our cases come from the enforcement of local and state laws, they may also be referred to us by federal agencies such as the F.B.I. and Drug Enforcement Administration (D.E.A.).
Prosecution – The prosecution of those accused of committing crimes is conducted by the Office of the State Attorney and to a small degree the Office of Statewide Prosecutor. We are responsible for representing the State in all criminal proceedings that result from the charging of a person with a crime by law enforcement and/or this office. Each accused is entitled to legal counsel provided by private attorneys hired by a defendant or by the Public Defender, which may be appointed by the court to those who cannot afford to hire a private attorney.
Judiciary – The third component of the Criminal Justice System is the judiciary. Its main function is the adjudication of cases to fairly determine guilt or innocence and the proper sentencing of those found guilty. Criminal Courts can be divided into two types: Circuit Court and County Court. There are two divisions within Circuit Court: Criminal – handles all adult felony cases that are prosecuted; and Juvenile – handles all felony and misdemeanor cases that are committed by defendants under 18 years of age. County Court handles all adult misdemeanor and all traffic cases that are prosecuted.
The Administration consists of personnel who perform various administrative functions for the State Attorney, as well as personnel and administrative support for the individual units and sections. These functions include: personnel and administrative support for divisions of the office, human resources, finance & budget, management information systems, records management, facilities, law library, mail, reception and public information.
Trial Units – The office is divided into trial units led by a Trial Unit Director. Each unit in Orange County consists of two felony divisions and two misdemeanor/traffic divisions. Osceola County is one unit consisting of three felony divisions, three misdemeanor/traffic divisions and one juvenile division.
Juvenile Unit – All crimes committed by juveniles are processed and prosecuted by our Juvenile Unit, excluding those cases that, based on the age of the child or the seriousness of the crime, are directly filed in adult court.
Investigations – The State Attorney has a team of Investigators whose purpose is to provide investigative support during case preparation and trial by Assistant State Attorneys. They also perform investigative tasks assigned by the State Attorney or Chief Investigator such as special investigations, Governor’s assignments, and grand jury investigative assistance.
MBI and OCIB – The Metropolitan Bureau of Investigation (MBI) and Osceola County Investigative Bureau (OCIB) are permanent, multi-agency law enforcement task forces comprised of specialized investigators from city, county, state and federal law enforcement agencies operating in Central Florida. The State Attorney provides legal and prosecution resources to both the MBI and the OCIB. The MBI and the OCIB operate as a specialized group of prosecutors and investigators assigned to concentrate on narcotics trafficking, organized crime, racketeering and other vice related areas such as prostitution, gambling and adult entertainment. Most crimes are vice related and organized, well-financed and operate freely across the jurisdictional lines of the existing law enforcement agencies. Additionally, MBI is designated as a federal High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA) Task Force. MBI also operates the Airport Narcotics Unit in conjunction with Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and the Orlando Police to interdict and intercept drug and money smuggling at Orlando International Airport.
Joint Homicide Investigative Team (JHIT) – This cooperative, multi-agency, law enforcement team was created to investigate current and cold case homicides in Orange and Osceola counties. Member agencies combine investigative resources to make efficient, cooperative use of their powers and resources, thereby providing a higher quality of law enforcement services to the public.