FAQ - Sheriff's Department

Print
Press Enter to show all options, press Tab go to next option

Back to FAQ

What do I do if I witness a crime or see something suspicious?
How do I report a traffic accident (property damage only)?
How do I report a traffic accident (with injuries)?
What can I do if I've been (or currently am) a victim of domestic violence?
How do I take care of a traffic citation?
How do I take care of a criminal citation (Notice to Appear)?
What do I do if I find graffiti on my property?
What do I do if I suspect a child is being abused or neglected?
What do I do if I suspect an elder is being abused or neglected, or taken advantage of financially?
How do I clear my good name and/or my credit when I've been a victim of identity theft?
What is a False Alarm Warning Notice (FAWN) and what do I do if I get one?

What do I do if I witness a crime or see something suspicious?
If you are witnessing a crime-in-progress, call 911 if the crime involves a threat to anyone's life or safety, such as robberies, burglaries, assaults, brandishing of weapons, etc.  For crimes-in-progress that do not present an immediate threat to anyone's life or safety, such as vandalisms or trespassing, call the Sheriff's Station at (661) 948-8466.

If you see something suspicious that you believe may be related to a crime that has yet to occur, contact the Sheriff's Station at (661) 948-8466. 

Whether reporting a crime-in-progress or suspicious activity, please provide as much information as possible.  Also see our Reporting Crime & Suspicious Activity page for more information.

How do I report a traffic accident (property damage only)?
To report a property-damage-only traffic acident (PDO), visit any Sheriff's Station or CHP office and pick up a Traffic Collision Report form (CHP 555-03).  This is a self-service form that may be filled out either at the station or taken home and turned in at a later time.  If there is major damage, or if your vehicle is blocking traffic and cannot be safely moved to the side of the road, you may call the Sheriff's Station at (661) 948-8466 to request that a deputy respond (if you're on the freeway or outside of City limits call CHP at (323) 982-4900).

Remember, if the other party is present you must exchange contact and insurance information per California law; leaving the scene of the accident before doing so (even if you are not at fault) may be considered as hit-and-run.  The only exception for you would be if the other party has already left the scene (in which case they are the one liable for hit-and-run).  If you are responsible for damage to a vehicle whose driver is not present at the time of the accident, you are legally obligated to leave your infomation for the other driver before leaving.

Once you've filed the form, please allow at least two weeks to get a copy of the report.  Copies may be obtained by visiting the station where you filed the form and paying a fee (for Lancaster Sheriff's Station, the fee is currently $23 for traffic reports).  You will need the file number provided to you when you turned in the form.

Keep in mind that under California law, an SR-1 Form (obtainable from DMV or CHP) must be filed with DMV within ten days of the accident (or as soon as possible if you are incapacitated) if the amount of property damage exceeds $750, or if there are any injuries or death; a law enforcement accident report does not satisfy this requirement.  Failure to meet this requirement may result in the suspension of your driver's license.  (Link will open in a new window.)

back to top

How do I report a traffic accident (with injuries)?
A report of any traffic accident involving injuries or death to any party MUST be filed within 24 hours of the accident under California law.  Do not move your vehicle unless your further safety or the safety of others is in immediate danger (if you must move the vehicle, only pull off to the side of the road; NEVER leave the scene of the accident).  Immediately call 911 or have someone call for you, and remain on scene until deputies or CHP officers arrive, handle the incident, and tell you that it's okay to leave.

As with a property-damage-only accident, an SR-1 must be filed with DMV within 10 days of the accident (or as soon as possible if you are incapacitated) if there are any injuries or death, or if the amount of property damage exceeds $750.  Failure to meet this requirement may result in the suspension of your driver's license.  (Link will open in a new window.)

back to top

What can I do if I've been (or currently am) a victim of domestic violence?
Victims of domestic violence should contact the Sheriff's Department and file a police report.  If the abuse is occuring right now, call the Sheriff's Department immediately at (661) 948-8466 to request a deputy response, if it is safe and practical for you to do so (call 911 if you or your children are in immediate danger of serious physical harm).  Reports of domestic violence are taken very seriously and are treated with care and confidentiality.  Each instance of violence merits a separate report.  Without these reports, nothing can be done to hold your abuser accountable for his or her actions.

Whether or not you choose to file a police report (or follow through with prosecution once you have filed), the best thing that you can do is to leave.  If you have children, take them with you.  If you do not have a safe place to stay with a trusted friend or relative, resources are available that can provide shelter, counseling, and legal assistance.  Valley Oasis is the Antelope Valley's local domestic violence shelter, providing services to both female and male victims of domestic violence (and their children).  Please visit their website for more information (link will open in a new window).

You may also call the Valley Oasis 24-hour hotline at (661) 945-6736, or you may call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at (800) 799-SAFE (7233) for more information or for help when you need it (link will open in a new window).

back to top

How do I take care of a traffic citation?
Traffic citations are paid or contested through the courts.  To pay your citation, visit the Traffic counter at the courthouse listed on your citation (citations issued in the Los Angeles County portion of the Antelope Valley are handled by the Antelope Valley Courthouse on 4th Street West and Avenue M; link will open in a new window).  Citations must be paid on or before the appearance date listed on the citation.  If you wish to contest the citation, you must appear in-person at the courthouse on the date listed on your citation; make sure to arrive prior to the opening of the courtroom (courtroom doors generally open at 8:30 a.m., so it is suggested you arrive at 8:00 a.m. to allow for parking, bag search, etc.).  Contests of citations will be heard by a Traffic Court judge, who will then determine the validity of the citation.

If your citation is a "fix-it ticket," i.e. for equipment violations or unsafe conditions, the problem must be corrected and signed off by a law enforcement agency prior to paying the citation at the courthouse.  Examples of "fix-it tickets" include (but are not limited to) those for window tint, exhaust systems, mufflers, adjustable suspensions, engine parts that are not legal for street use, oversized wheels, expired registration, etc.

back to top

How do I take care of a criminal citation (Notice to Appear)?
Criminal citations ("Notice to Appear," such as for misdemeanor offenses or for outstanding warrants) are slightly different than traffic citations.  If you are issued a Notice to Appear, you must appear at the court listed on your citation, on the date listed on your citation (citations issued in the Los Angeles County portion of the Antelope Valley are heard through Antelope Valley Courthouse; link will open in a new window).  You may wish to contact the Court Clerk (this must be done in-person prior to 8:30 a.m. on the date of appearance; bring your citation and any relavant paperwork with you) to ensure that your case has been calendared for that date.  Make sure to arrive prior to the opening of the courtroom to check-in.

During this court appearance (known as "arraignment"), you will have an opportunity to designate legal counsel or have counsel provided to you if you cannot afford your own.  In addition you will have an opportunity to enter a plea, and if applicable bail will be set.

back to top

What do I do if I find graffiti on my property?
To report graffiti on your property, contact the Lancaster Sheriff's Station at (661) 948-8466 and file a police report, then contact the City's Graffiti Removal at (661) 723-5985 to have the graffiti removed.  If you'd prefer you may remove or cover the graffiti yourself.  Please visit our Graffiti Removal page for more information.

back to top

What do I do if I suspect a child is being abused or neglected?
To report suspected child abuse or neglect, call the Los Angeles County Department of Children & Family Services (DCFS) at (800) 540-4000 (link will open in a new window).  Please provide the address where the child resides, names (if known) and a description of what leads you to believe that there is abuse or neglect (examples may include but are not limited to: bruises of different colors and in places not normal for "bumping into things", multiple injuries in different stages of healing, injuries that don't "match" their explanations, evidence of malnutrition or untreated illness, young children continually without supervision, lack of personal hygiene, etc.).

If you ever suspect criminal child abuse that is presenting an immediate danger to the child's life or safety, call the Sheriff's Station at (661) 948-8466 to request a deputy response (call 911 if the situation is life-threatening).

back to top

What do I do if I suspect an elder is being abused or neglected, or taken advantage of financially?
To report suspected elder or dependent adult abuse (physical or financial) or neglect, call Adult Protective Services at (877) 4-R-SENIORS (477-3646) to report it http://www.cdss.ca.gov  (link will open in a new window).  You may also use this phone number to get help for an elderly or disabled adult who is no longer able to care for themselves and does not have other resources to get the care he or she needs.  Please visit our page on Elder & Dependent Abuse for more information.

If you ever suspect criminal elder or dependent adult abuse that is presenting an immediate danger to the adult's life or safety, call the Sheriff's Station at (661) 948-8466 to request a deputy response (call 911 if the situation is life-threatening).

back to top

How do I clear my good name and/or my credit when I've been a victim of identity theft?
If you've become a victim of identity theft, gather all the documentation that you can (credit reports, account statements/transaction histories, collections letters, etc.), dispute the transactions or accounts with the credit issuers or banks, and contact the Sheriff's Station at (661) 948-8466 to file an identity theft report.  For non-credit-related Social Security number fraud (employment, public assistance, medical treatment, etc.) gather documentation from the appropriate entity such as the IRS or the hospital where care was received, including but not limited to Wage & Earnings Transcripts, medical records, bills for services rendered, benefits statements, etc.

Once you have your report number, contact the credit bureaus and place a 90-day fraud alert on your records, and continue to gather any documents.  Thoroughly check your credit reports to ensure that there is no other fraudulent activity that you haven't yet caught.  After you've placed the fraud alert with the credit bureaus, contact the Federal Trade Commission at (877) ID-THEFT (438-4338) to report the identity theft as well, as they maintain a database that helps law enforcement track down those responsible (link will open in a new window).

For more information please visit our Identity Theft page.

back to top

What is a False Alarm Warning Notice (FAWN) and what do I do if I get one?
A False Alarm Warning Notice (FAWN) is generated when deputies respond to a call for service due to a triggered alarm and find no evidence of a legitimate alarm activation (i.e. no broken windows/open doors, no trespassers, etc.).  If you receive a FAWN, you have 10 business days from the date of the notice to submit a written explanation of the cause of the false alarm and any corrective action you have taken or will take to prevent future false alarms.

Mail your written statement to Lancaster Sheriff's Station, Attn: False Alarm Coordinator, 501 West Lancaster Boulevard, Lancaster, CA 93534.  If you have questions or would like more information, or to dispute a FAWN that you believe was a legitimate activation, you may contact the False Alarm Coordinator at (661) 948-8466 or the City of Lancaster's Public Safety Office at (661) 723-6063, during business hours.

Note that for the third and each subsequent false alarm during a calendar year, a $100.00 fine will be assessed.  Alarm "counts" are reset on January 1st each year.

back to top

Free viewers are required for some of the attached documents.
They can be downloaded by clicking on the icons below.

Acrobat Reader Flash Player QuickTime Windows Media Player Microsoft Silverlight Word Viewer Excel Viewer PowerPoint Viewer