Vice detectives investigate crimes that occur in a particular community. They do sting operations. They do undercover operations and surveillance. They use informants. They do all sorts of things to catch people committing certain crimes. Examples are a community is plagued with prostitution activities.
The vice unit of that particular community would search out who is involved with these prostitution activities – whether prostitution, pimps, or anybody involved. They would then try to infiltrate that activity and arrest the busy people.
Sometimes they'll put female officers out on the street posing as prostitutes with many other officers surrounding them. Sometimes they'll put people posing as pimps. They do all sorts of things.
The vice officers in Los Angeles and the San Fernando Valley are tasked with protecting the community. There's a big drug problem in a particular neighborhood or area. The vice officers will come in and start conducting surveillance and figuring out how they will arrest people.
Another thing that I've seen over the last twenty-five years of practicing criminal defense is that vice officers will target big criminals. They'll use informants, surveillance, and undercover work to figure out how to get the extensive criminal. Our Los Angeles criminal defense attorneys will cover this topic in more detail below.
Investigation of Drug-Related Activity
Let's say someone is dealing a bunch of drugs in Los Angeles. The vice officers will figure out who that person is, and then they'll start to target them – watch them, follow them, videotape them. They'll send their officers in. They'll also send informants in to try to talk to that person and get them to commit a crime – catch them on the wire, see them on videotape.
So, if the vice patrol catches you, you're going to be prosecuted in whatever courthouse has control or jurisdiction over that area where you were arrested; you should get a defense lawyer who knows that community and has handled cases against the vice before.
There are also vice narcotics detectives. They do a lot of work as well. So really, if I had to pinpoint or synthesize down, what vice detectives do is deal with the specific criminal activity that affects particular communities in the Valley.
They'll figure out what's going on – if it's drugs or prostitution or any type of theft-related offenses. Then they'll figure out how they can solve this problem. What resources and what officers can be put on this to figure out how to solve this particular issue.
Use of Informants in the Community
Often, they use informants in the community who are even paid to help them figure out who's involved with the crime and how they can stamp it out of that community. So, whether its narcotics, prostitution, or any other type of crime, if it's a constant problem in a particular community, the vice officers of that community are going to come in, put resources out, do surveillance, get video, get informant's statements and then they're going to start making arrests.
I've seen them crash stash houses and arrest ten people at a time if they think all ten people are conspiring to commit a specific crime. So, the key to defending yourself when these vice officers grab you is to get an attorney who has dealt with these officers before and the prosecutors who prosecute these crimes that vice officers investigate.
Often, particular prosecutors directly work with the vice officers who directly work with the community to stamp out problems. To defend yourself and not get trapped up in that and not be made a statistic, you're going to want to get an attorney who can fight back for you, get your version of events across, and get you the best possible resolution that protects your rights, your freedom, your record, and your reputation.