A Prosecutor’s Quick Guide to Opioid Overdose Investigations

This is a summary of a comprehensive resource entitled Seeking Justice and Solutions: A Prosecutor’s Guide to Opioid Overdose Investigations. This Quick Guide provides an overview of areas for consideration, including investigative steps and prosecutorial decision-making. The full Guide provides further discussion of these topics, various examples of how prosecutors’ offices of all sizes have addressed these complex issues, and a self-survey to evaluate an office’s capacity to respond to overdoses.


A Prosecutor’s Quick Guide to Opioid Overdose Investigations



Seeking Justice and Solutions: A Prosecutor’s Guide to Opioid Overdose Investigations

The opioid epidemic has presented prosecutors with new challenges and questions.  “We can’t arrest our way out of this problem” is the new tagline of the epidemic. Through the opioid crisis may be the result of criminal actions by pharmaceutical companies, profit-driven drug sellers, and corrupt physicians, modern prosecutors acknowledge that addiction itself is a medical condition, not a crime. The prosecutor is faced with decisions on two fronts, how to address the criminal activity of drug sellers and how to treat the medical issues of drug users. There is no simple answer. The goal of this guide is to provide options and to highlight innovative, effective strategies for improving prosecutors’ responses to overdose deaths. These responses range from providing access to treatment to prosecuting overdose deaths as homicides.Seeking Justice and Solutions- A Prosecutor’s Guide to Opioid Overdose Investigations

The Problem-Solving Prosecutor: Modern Variations on the Crime Strategies Unit

This comprehensive document provides guidance on developing or enhancing intelligence-driven prosecution through a Crime Strategies Unit (CSU), or through processes that accomplish goals similar to those of a CSU. Based in part on interviews with prosecutors, crime analysts, and other specialists in the field, the guide discusses building foundational partnerships, methods for gathering data and intelligence, and ways in which data can inform and support investigations and prosecutions.


The Problem-Solving Prosecutor- Modern Variations on the Crime Strategies Unit

Proactive Prosecution: Protecting the Record and Overcoming Pre-Trial Issues During COVID-19

The COVID-19 pandemic has raised new issues and exacerbated persisting challenges for prosecutors, who are consistently faced with the task of preparing cases that are victim-centered, sensitive to constitutional guarantees, and resilient to vulnerabilities on appeal. Virtual hearings and other accommodations made to criminal justice processes in light of COVID-19 implicate concerns related to the rights of victims and defendants, as well as the public’s right to open and accessible proceedings. Issues related to pre-trial detention and potential continuances also take on new dimensions during the pandemic. Furthermore, the uncertainty caused by COVID-19, and the complexity it adds to cases, lends itself to the litigation of novel defense motions and challenges. An effective response to this unprecedented time requires proactive consideration of statutes and case law and also engages fundamental principles of pre-trial practice.

This webinar addresses potential legal issues raised by the COVID-19 pandemic and discusses strategies to prepare for defense challenges and mitigate appellate exposure.

Digital Evidence Part I: The Investigative Stage — Recognition, Collection, Search

This two-part webinar series presented by the Denver District Attorney’s Office, in partnership with AEquitas, explores the scope of data available from sources of digital evidence and strategies on how such data can effectively be developed with forensically-sound practices. Presenters discuss theories of admission, rules of evidence, and “real life” examples to demonstrate how to properly authenticate and introduce digital evidence in court proceedings. Part I of the series explores the different types and sources of electronic data that are available to investigators; how such data can be properly collected, regardless of whether it is in a physical device or electronic records; and methods to facilitate searching and seizing data.

Part III: The Principles of Witness Protection

Join AEquitas for the third of a three-part webinar series that explores the ways in which offenders and their allies intimidate victims and witnesses of crime, the effects of intimidation on the criminal justice system response, and the methods for preventing and responding to witness intimidation. Part III of the series focuses on the principles of witness protection, which include tactical considerations, addressing the trauma to the victim/witness, and supporting lifestyle changes. The presenter discusses the importance of determining whether an imminent and credible threat against the life of a victim/witness exists by utilizing a dynamic screening and threat assessment tool, understanding the impact of trauma on the path to change, and recognizing the signs of trauma in clients, families, staff, and others.

Confronting Racial Bias & Implementing Strategies to Ensure Justice in the Prosecution of Sexual Violence, Domestic Violence, Stalking, and Human Trafficking

This web-based panel is hosted by AEquitas and the National Black Prosecutors Association and explores the ways in which bias against Black women affects the investigation and prosecution of sexual assault, domestic violence, stalking, and human trafficking. Panelists address the following topics:

-Effects of inequalities and challenges that Black women uniquely face as victims of sexual assault, domestic violence, stalking, and human trafficking;

-Barriers to reporting crimes—such as bias and stereotypes held by law enforcement prosecutors, judges, and jurors— which can translate into disparate outcomes for victims through unfair credibility determinations; 

-The impact of bias on the accuracy of assessments of the probability of conviction in cases, and the collateral consequences on a victim’s ability to seek restoration; 

-The necessary commitment offices must make to eradicate implicit bias among its staff and enhance recruitment, mentorship, and support for individuals who are Black and/or African American and people of color; and

-Strategies for prosecutors’ offices to enhance justice for victims by engaging in cultural humility, promoting criminal record relief, improving training, and ensuring accountability reinforced by data.

IPS Learning Community Series: Social Network Analysis

As home to the Innovative Prosecution Solutions (IPS) Research and Evaluation Training and Technical Assistance team, RTI International has developed a webinar series to support the creation and ongoing engagement of a learning community of local researchers and practitioners interested in discussing evaluation-related topics, sharing methodological techniques, and addressing problem-solving challenges in carrying out applied research. In the fourth webinar in the series, research partners from two IPS Projects discuss how they are utilizing — or plan on utilizing – social network analysis (SNA) to aid in action research. View the discussion to learn more about the basics of SNA and how it can be used to better understand the relationships between opioid manufacturers, distributors, and overdose victims.