Joyce E. Dudley


Santa Barbara County District Attorney


Joyce E. Dudley was elected District Attorney of Santa Barbara County in June 2010 and assumed office on June 22, 2010. District Attorney Dudley is dedicated to fulfilling the primary function of the District Attorney’s Office, which is to seek justice for all.

District Attorney Dudley has followed through on her commitment to the voters of Santa Barbara County by bringing transparency, improved communication and innovation to the District Attorney’s Office. Since taking office, she has instituted a number of positive changes.


  • Arson Task Force: One of District Attorney Dudley’s first priorities was the creation of an Arson Task Force. The arson task force is available at all times to respond to, coordinate, and work with all fire agencies throughout the County in the investigation and prosecution of those responsible for unlawful fires.


  • Reorganization: To improve its efficiency and effectiveness, District Attorney Dudley reorganized the District Attorney’s Office. The Gang Unit has adopted an approach that includes education, intervention and prosecution. The Financial Crimes Unit focuses on financial and cybercrimes. The Vulnerable Victims Unit, which prosecutes domestic violence, crimes of abuse and hate crimes, has been reinforced and expanded.

  • Vulnerable Victims: Inclusive to the expansion of the Vulnerable Victims Unit, District Attorney Dudley pursued and received grant funding from the Department of Insurance and Annuity Consumer Protection. This grant funding provides for outreach and advocacy services to those who may become victims of financial abuse and exploitation in the realm of life insurance and annuities.


  • Addition of Canine Companion: District Attorney Dudley oversaw the addition of a full-time highly trained canine companion in August 2012. Cared for by a volunteer attorney, the canine companion is available to offer emotional support to victims and witnesses with psychological, physical or emotional trauma resulting from criminal conduct, at no additional cost to the County.

  • Volunteer Attorney Externship Program: District Attorney Dudley initiated a volunteer attorney program to introduce new attorneys to the field of criminal prosecutions. Externs do research, argue motions, resolve cases on the readiness and settlement calendar, conduct preliminary hearings and when ready, try cases before juries. In addition to the Externship Program, retired Senior Deputy District Attorneys have returned as volunteers, providing invaluable service and offering expertise to new attorneys.


  • Truancy Program: District Attorney Dudley has been a strong advocate for reestablishing a Truancy Program in Santa Barbara County, which was reinstated in 2012. District Attorney Dudley knows that keeping children in school and on the path to graduation is one of the most effective crime-prevention tools available. The program will enforce the law regarding compulsory education, and will also include prevention and intervention dedicated to identifying the root causes of truancy.

  • Misdemeanor Diversion Program: District Attorney Dudley was actively engaged in the creation of the Santa Barbara County Misdemeanor Diversion Program, which is a creative solution to high caseload levels, increased jail overcrowding, and the new challenges of Assembly Bill 109. Along with significant cost savings due to reduced low-level misdemeanor cases, the program will also result in improved efficiencies, reductions in recidivism, and more positive outcomes for those convicted of misdemeanor crimes.


In addition to working closely with all public safety agencies, District Attorney Dudley is committed to working with other public agencies and private community organizations countywide to improve and coordinate efforts to prevent crime.

District Attorney Dudley began her legal career in the Santa Barbara County District Attorney’s Office in 1990. She has prosecuted well over one thousand cases including murder, arson, robbery, burglary, crimes involving sexual offenses, crimes against children and hate crimes. Involvement in community activities has been a priority for District Attorney Dudley during her career as a prosecutor. She has received numerous awards honoring her outstanding performance and volunteer activities from law enforcement agencies as well as community organizations


  • B.A. Psychology
  • M.A. in Education
    with an emphasis in Administration.
  • M. Ed in Education with an emphasis in Child Development.
  • J.D.

Awards and Distinctions

  • Woman of the Year 2021 Democratic Woman of Santa Barbara County
  • California Legislature (19th Senatorial 37th Assembly)
  • Woman of the Year 2020 (one of a few)
  • Executive Board Member California District Attorneys Association (2021-Present)
  • Board of Directors Hospice Santa Barbara (2020-Present)
  • 2018 Santa Barbra's Woman of the Year (Junior League)
  • Chair of the Commission on POST, State of California (2016-present)
  • • Executive Board Member Fight Crime Invest in Kids, Ca.
  • CADA : Penny Jenkins Mentor of the Year Award 2016
  • Attorney of the Year, Santa Barbara Women Lawyers 2015
  • Editorial Advisory Board member, California Lawyer Magazine (2013-2015)
  • Commissioner-Commission on POST, State of California (2013 -present)
  • Member of California District Attorneys Association Board of Directors (2012-2014)
  • Rescue Mission, Back to the Bayou, the Léni Fé Bland award (2013)
  • Community Action Commission, Champion (2013)
  • Santa Barbara County Schools Local Leader (2013)
  • Co-chair Fighting Back Steering Committee 2012 - present
  • Keynote Speaker, National California District Attorneys Association Annual Conference (2012)
  • Chair Fighting Back Criminal Justice Task Force 2010 - present
  • Santa Barbara County Schools Local Leader (2010)
  • Santa Barbara County Schools Community Hero (2009 and 2010)
  • Woman of Inspiration by Girls Inc. (2009)
  • The University of California at Santa Barbara, Gervitz School of Education, awarded District Attorney Dudley Alumni of the Year for Outstanding Leadership in 2005, and in 2008 the Department of Psychology chose her as their Alumni to Spotlight
  • Girl Scouts Woman of Distinction (2006)
  • The Citizens Council on Crime Guerry Award for Superior Performance. (2004)
  • Soroptimist Woman of Inspiration/Human Rights (2004)
  • Rape Crisis Center Shining Star Award (2002)
  • Alzheimer’s Association Celebrity Champion

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