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Cold Case FAQs

What types of cases does the cold case unit handle?

How many cold cases does the unit handle?

How successful is the Cold Case Unit?

Is there a time limit on when these cases may be prosecuted?

Are there any limitations on the types of cold cases that the unit handles?

How long does it take to investigate a cold case?

I have information on a cold case, who should I contact?

 

 

What types of cases does the cold case unit handle? [TOP]

The Cold Case Unit handles homicide cases (or suspected homicide cases where the cause of death is suspected to be homicide or the victim is missing and is suspected to have been murdered) that have gone “cold” for one reason or another. While there is no specific time period for a case to have gone “cold”, it typically takes years. A case turns “cold,” when the investigation hits a dead end and there are no longer any leads for investigators to follow. Some of these cases involve suspects who were previously identified and a warrant was issued but they have managed to elude investigators most often by fleeing the area and obtaining a new identity.


How many cold cases does the unit handle?
[TOP]

While there are an estimated 1200+ cold cases within the County of San Bernardino, the Cold Case Unit handles only a fraction of this amount. At any one time, investigators may be actively working on 10-15 of these cases.


How successful is the Cold Case Unit?
[TOP]

To date, the Cold Case Unit has prosecuted approximately 30 cold cases. In addition, the Unit has reviewed hundreds of cases for the purposes of determining whether new scientific testing can be performed (DNA testing) or other investigative leads exist which could lead to reopening these cases. Over 100 cases have been reopened for purposes of conducting additional testing on existing evidence or following up on investigative leads through interviews.


Is there a time limit on when these cases may be prosecuted?
[TOP]

No. In California, there is no statute of limitations (a time limitation in which a crime must be prosecuted) on a murder case. Unlike many other crimes for which there is a time limitation which limits when the government may prosecute a person for the crime, murder does not have any such time limitation. This is why you can have an 84 year old person who is prosecuted for a murder that they committed 60+ years ago when they were 21.


Are there any limitations on the types of cold cases that the unit handles?
[TOP]

Yes. The murder had to have occurred within the County of San Bernardino (there are very rare exceptions to this requirement). Additionally, the suspect must be alive. If a suspect exists, that suspect must still be living. The suspect must not have been previously prosecuted and acquitted of the charges and there must not be a legitimate reason or excuse for the killing (self-defense, accident, etc.).


How long does it take to investigate a cold case?
[TOP]

Most cases take months to years to investigate depending on the individual circumstances of the case.


I have information on a cold case, who should I contact?
[TOP]

You should contact your local police department or sheriff’s department. If the crime occurred in San Bernardino County, you may contact your local police department or the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department Homicide Division at (909) 387-3589. If you wish to remain anonymous, you can call WE TIP at 1-800-78-CRIME.

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It is the mission of the San Bernardino County District Attorney's Office to represent the interests of the people in the criminal justice system, as mandated by California State law. The San Bernardino County District Attorney's Office serves the residents of San Bernardino County by: seeking the truth, protecting the innocent; holding the guilty accountable; preserving the dignity of victims and their families; and, ensuring that justice is done while always maintaining the highest ethical standards.

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