Medicolegal Death Investigations
Under California State Government Code 27491, the Medical Examiner-Coroner’s Office shall investigate and determine the circumstances, manner and cause of death for all violent, sudden, unattended or unusual deaths. Reportable deaths (pdf) include homicide, suicide, drug-related, accidents, contagious diseases, child deaths, Officer-involved, in custody and undetermined. The investigation includes interviewing witnesses, physicians, police officers, and family members to obtain facts concerning death. The Medicolegal Death Investigator is responsible for positive identification of deceased, personal notification to family, preparing a written report of facts, taking possession of personal property and evidence while maintaining the chain of custody.
The Medical Examiner shall have the discretion to determine the extent and type of the examination. Under California Government Code 27491.45 (a), the Medical Examiner shall have the right to retain organs, as defined in subdivision (g) of Section 7150.1 of the Health and Safety Code, removed at the time of autopsy. If organs are retained, every effort will be made to advise the next-of-kin in a timely manner.