Sacramento County is among 12 counties in California that has a separate Coroner's Office or Medical Examiner/District Attorney Coroner, while the other counties combine this function with the Sheriff's Department. Each county within the state is mandated to perform the functions of Coroner as defined in the California Government Code Section 27491, the Health and Safety Code Section 102850, the Penal Code and various other codes and regulations.
An independent Coroner's office helps to ensure death investigations are conducted objectively and reduces any public perception that the investigative process could be influenced by other segments of the criminal justice system.
This separation of Coroner duties is authorized in Penal Code §830.35, which specifies the coroner and deputy coroners are sworn peace officers. This designation, in addition to other California codes, defines the authority, duties, functions, and responsibilities of the Coroner's Office.
Role of the Coroner’s Office
It is the duty of the Sacramento County Coroner’s Office to ensure, on behalf of the community, that sudden and unexpected death, or those deaths that occur under violent or suspicious circumstances are thoroughly investigated. This role is undertaken by investigative and medical staff to find answers to the questions which are important to the deceased's family, involved law enforcement agencies, insurance companies, and the California Department of Health Services to name a few. The Coroner will examine the circumstances surrounding all “reportable” deaths and:
- determine the identity of the deceased
- determine the time, place, cause and manner of death
- comment on matters, including public health and safety, connected with the death
The California Office of Emergency Services (OES) has divided California’s 58 counties into seven Mutual Aid Regions. Under a mutual aid agreement, the Sacramento County Coroner is the elected coordinator for Region 4 which is comprised of 11 jurisdictions. The Coroner is responsible to coordinate emergency resources and assistance in the event of a large scale regional disaster or incident that involves fatalities. Such assistance may take the form of equipment, supplies, personnel, recovering and identifying the dead and notifying next of kin.