The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of California includes four divisions distributed among the Offices’ San Francisco, Oakland, and San Jose locations: the Criminal Division, the Civil Division, the Tax Division, and the Appellate Division.
The Criminal Division consists of six specialized units, the Oakland Branch Office, and the San Jose Branch Office:
The Economic Crimes and Securities Fraud Unit prosecutes a variety of fraud offenses, including securities fraud, insider trading, investment fraud and Ponzi schemes, health care fraud, mortgage fraud, and embezzlement, as well as counterfeiting, identity theft, money laundering, and other economic crimes.
The Special Prosecutions and National Security Unit is responsible for supporting counterterrorism and counterespionage investigations and prosecutions in the district. In addition, the Special Prosecutions and National Security Unit prosecutes public corruption, environmental, civil rights, child exploitation, illegal export, and immigration cases.
The Strike Force and Violent Crime Unit focuses on organized gangs and criminal enterprises with the Northern District, including Asian organized crime and Hispanic and African-American street and prison gangs. The Strike Force and Violent Crime Unit also handles firearms offenses and other violent crimes. The Northern District contains extensive national park, tribal, and other federal land, and the Strike Force and Violent Crime Unit supervises the prosecution of a variety of offenses that occur in these federal preserves.
The Narcotics Unit primarily seeks to disrupt large-scale drug-trafficking organizations that qualify for prosecution by the Organized Crime and Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF). In addition, the chief of that unit is the OCDETF regional coordinator and exercises a supervisory role over all OCDETF prosecutions in the western United States. The Narcotics Unit also prosecutes drug-trafficking organizations that do not qualify as OCDETF targets and reactive drug cases.
The Computer Hacking and Intellectual Property Unit (CHIP) is based in San Jose and handles a variety of matters involving the District’s many computer and high- technology companies. Those matters include computer hacking and intrusion, denial-of- service attacks on computer servers, criminal copyright and trademark infringement, and theft of trade secrets. The Northern District was the first U.S. Attorney’s Office to establish a CHIP Unit.
The Asset Forfeiture Unit is responsible for civil and criminal forfeiture of the assets used in, generated by, or facilitating criminal activity. Asset Forfeiture Unit attorneys institute civil actions to obtain forfeiture of those assets and assist other federal prosecutors in obtaining forfeiture as part of criminal enforcement actions.
The Civil Division consists of the General Defensive Litigation, Affirmative Civil Enforcement (ACE), and Financial Litigation (FLU) teams. Civil AUSAs are assigned to the San Jose Branch Office as well as the San Francisco Office.
General Defensive Litigation
The majority of the Civil Division's AUSAs are assigned to the general defensive litigation team. This team principally defends the United States and its agencies in a variety of civil actions, including cases involving federal employment, personal injury, immigration, constitutional law, challenges to agency actions and civil rights.
Affirmative Civil Enforcement
The primary purpose of the ACE Unit is to prosecute civil actions to recover damages for fraud and other misconduct against the United States. The ACE unit also handles cases involving civil common law remedies, civil penalties, and other remedies, such as those available under the Fraud Injunction Statute.
Financial Litigation Unit
The primary function of the FLU is to litigate and enforce the collection of criminal and civil debts owed to the United States, including judgments, fines, restitution and penalties.
The United States Attorney's Office for the Northern District of California is one of only two U.S. Attorney's Offices in the country that has a separate division dedicated to litigating both criminal and civil tax cases. The Tax Division in the Northern District of California was established more than 40 years ago to ensure compliance with the United States’ tax laws and to protect the public fisc with integrity, fairness, and expertise.
The Tax Division prosecutes criminal violations of the Internal Revenue Code and works on complex tax issues in civil defensive and affirmative cases. These cases, which cover the spectrum from criminal tax fraud and evasion cases to civil cases including such matters as claimed refunds, fraudulent conveyances, lien determinations, and preferential transfers, are litigated in all the federal district, bankruptcy, and state trial and appellate courts within the Northern District of California as well as the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. Through its efforts, the Tax Division has recovered hundreds of millions of dollars in uncollected taxes, successfully prosecuted myriad criminal tax law violators, and prevailed in countless affirmative and defensive cases in the various courts in which it practices.
The Appellate Division is responsible for supervising the office’s criminal appeals in the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. The duties of the Assistants assigned to the Appellate Division include writing briefs and presenting arguments in the circuit court of appeals, assisting other AUSAs in drafting and editing briefs, and conducting moot courts and otherwise preparing AUSAs for oral arguments. The Appellate Division also consults with the Department of Justice and the Solicitor General on potential government appeals, petitions for rehearing en banc, and U.S. Supreme Court litigation in all criminal cases involving the government arising from the district.