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Medical Examiner

Ventura County Medical Examiner

Mission Statement

Our mission is to provide professional death investigation services in a compassionate, respectful, timely and accurate manner while complying with applicable California statutes.

Purpose

Our purpose is to investigate the circumstances of deaths that fall under our jurisdiction as defined by California statutes.

What we do

A death investigation is initiated when the Medical Examiner Office is notified by law enforcement agencies, funeral homes, health providers or loved ones, and is deemed to fall under the jurisdiction of the Medical Examiner. It is then our duty to identify deceased individuals, notify relatives of deaths, protect the immediate property on or about a body, determine the cause, manner and circumstances of deaths, initiate the death certificate and provide forensic consultative services concerning investigated deaths.

Reportable Deaths

California law requires investigation of deaths that occur from unknown causes or under suspicious circumstances. The following categories of deaths are immediately reportable to the Medical Examiner Office:

  • Suspected or known homicides, suicides and accidents
  • Deaths involving suspected or known criminal activity
  • Deaths involving suspected poisonings
  • Deaths related to substance abuse
  • Deaths occurring in jail or in police custody
  • Deaths occurring at state mental hospitals
  • Deaths related to occupational diseases or hazards
  • Deaths in which the deceased was not attended to by a physician for the 20 days prior to dying.
  • Deaths in which a physician cannot reasonably give the cause of death
  • Deaths involving suspected contagious diseases constituting a public hazard
  • Deaths of unidentified persons
  • Deaths occurring within 24 hours of hospital admission
  • Deaths suspected to be from sudden infant death syndrome

Immediate reporting of the above listed deaths assures compliance with the statutory provisions of California Government Code 27491 and Health and Safety Code 102850 and Code 103000.

Identification and Viewing

Contrary to popular belief, it is not necessary for the next of kin to come to the Medical Examiner Office to make identification. Decedents are identified through fingerprinting or other forensic means.

The Medical Examiner Office does not have private areas suitable for viewing. Loved ones may be viewed at the funeral home or mortuary.

Property

Property brought in with the decedent is released with the body to the mortuary or funeral home.

Additional Information

Death Certificates can be obtained from the funeral home or the Office of Vital Records. 805-981-5172
Autopsy Reports may be requested by calling the Medical Examiner Office at 805-641-4401 or by email at MEOAdmin@ventura.org. Two copies are provided to the family at no charge. Additional copies are available for a fee. NOTE: reports often take 4-6 months to complete depending on the complexity of the investigation.

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