Sexual Assault and Vulnerable Victims Unit

Sexual assault is fundamentally an act of violence. Statistics indicate one out of six women will be raped in their lifetime. Even that number may be understated as, due to fear or shame, many victims will never report the crime. F.B.I. calculations suggest, four in five victims fail to report the crime of rape while other more extensive studies indicate that as few as one in 10 rapes is reported.


The specially trained attorneys assigned to the Sexual Assault units benefit from vertical prosecution meaning one lawyer handles the case from filing through sentencing.  In this way we can assure each of these cases receives the attention necessary to see justice done and that the victims of sexual assault experience continuity through out the criminal justice process. Law enforcement, medical personnel and victim advocate groups form the SART (Sexual Assault Response Team). The mission of the SART project is to begin the healing process for all child, adolescent and adult survivors of sexual assault and abuse at the first contact with the legal system by responding with a coordinated team effort involving law enforcement and supportive social service agencies.


Many of the cases handled by the sexual assault attorneys carry potential life sentences mandated by the "one strike" laws that apply to aggravated cases.

Victims of sexual assault are guaranteed anonymity throughout the court process and a victim's address is prevented by state law from disclosure. (California Penal Code sections 293 and 293.5.) The Sexual Assault attorneys also obtain search warrants for defendants' blood to test for HIV in appropriate cases. (California Penal Code section 1524.2.) The local health department will inform the victim of the result in a medically confidential manner and provide professional counseling. (California Penal Code section 1524.1(f)(g)(h).)


After conviction, all felony sex offenders are required to give DNA samples for inclusion in the State of California's database. (Penal Code section 295 et seq.)


The attorneys assigned to this unit are also responsible for the civil commitment petitions, and, hearings and trials to extend confinement for sexually violent predators and mentally disordered sex offender proceedings.



Get help quickly. Call the police, sheriff, a rape crisis center, doctor, friend or relative.

Do not wash, douche, change clothes or clean up in any way until after talking to the police and going to the hospital. (You could destroy valuable evidence.)

Remember you are the victim. You have nothing to feel guilty or ashamed about.


Contact Information


Santa Barbara
Jennifer Karapetian

Lauren Franco

District Attorney Office
1112 Santa Barbara Street
Santa Barbara, CA 93101
Telephone: (805) 568-2300


Santa Maria
Anne Nudson

Scott Donahue

Fabiana Febe
District Attorney Office
312-D East Cook Street
Santa Maria, CA 93454
Telephone: (805) 346-7540

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