The Coroner's Division is responsible for carrying out the statutory duties of the Coroner as defined in California Government Code Section 27491 and Health and Safety Code Section 102850. Those duties include investigation into the circumstances surrounding all deaths falling within the Coroner's jurisdiction for the purpose of determining the identity of the deceased, the medical cause of death, the manner of death, and the date and time of death. Medicolegal death investigations are conducted countywide on all homicides, suicides, accidents, suspicious, and unexplained deaths. Other duties include locating and notifying the legal next-of-kin, safeguarding personal property, collection and preservation of evidence, and completion of mandatory records and documents.
Butte County, like many counties in California, is a Sheriff-Coroner county, which gives deputies dual powers as a Deputy Coroner and Peace Officer. This means there are instances where official acts are carried out as both Sheriff and Coroner (when occurring in the unincorporated areas of the county).
Government Code § 27491 and Health and Safety Code § 102850 direct the Coroner to inquire into and determine, the circumstances, manner and cause of certain deaths. The Coroner shall be called in any of the following cases:
- Unattended deaths (no physician in attendance or during the continued absence of the attending physician; also includes all deaths outside hospitals and nursing care facilities)
- Deaths where the deceased has not been attended by either a physician or a registered nurse, who is a member of a hospice care interdisciplinary team, as defined by Health and Safety Code § 1746 in the 20 days prior to death
- Physician unable to state the cause of death (unwillingness does not apply); includes all sudden, unexpected and unusual deaths and fetal deaths when the underlying cause is unknown
- Known or suspected homicide
- Known or suspected suicide
- Involving any criminal action or suspicion of a criminal act. Includes child and dependent adult negligence and abuse
- Related to or following known or suspected self-induced or criminal abortion
- Associated with a known or alleged rape or crime against nature
- Following an accident or injury (primary or contributory); deaths known or suspected as resulting (in whole or in part) from or related to accident or injury, either old or recent
- Drug addiction
- Accidental poisoning (food, chemical, drug, therapeutic agents)
- Occupational diseases or occupational hazards
- Known or suspected contagious disease constituting a public hazard
- In prison or while under sentence. Includes all in-custody and sheriff involved deaths
- All deaths of unidentified persons
- All deaths of state hospital patients
- Suspected Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) deaths
Death Requiring an Inquiry / Decision
Certain types of cases not listed in the State Law but which often pose problems or are difficult to evaluate, should be reported to the Coroner's Office for a decision. These include:
- Operating room deaths: Most of these deaths are considered a normal complication or not an unexpected risk of the surgery performed; the Coroner's Office is interested only in cases of "therapeutic misadventure" where the death is unexplained or unexpected
- All deaths where the patient is comatose throughout the period of the physician's attendance; when the cause of the coma has been definitely established as due to a natural disease, it is not necessary for a Coroner's Office to conduct an investigation
Forensic Autopsies are conducted to determine cause and manner of death. Not all death investigations result in an autopsy. The Coroner's Office works with forensic pathologists to determine when it is necessary to conduct an autopsy.
Copies of reports are generally available 6 to 10 weeks after death. When making a request please include your:
- Contact information
- Relationship to the decedent
- Decedent's name
- Decedent's birthdate
Requests for copies of reports can be made via any of the following methods:
- Phone: 530-538-7404
- Emailing the Coroner's Office
- Via Mail - please mail requests to:
5 Gillick Way
Oroville, CA, 95965
Attn: Records Division
Obtaining Property Taken for Safekeeping
The decedent's next of kin, or their authorized agent, can contact the Coroner's Office to inquire about personal property taken for safekeeping. The Coroner's Office can schedule an appointment for the decedent's next of kin, or their authorized agent, to pick up property.
The Butte County Coroner's Office does not issue death certificates. Death certificates can be obtained from the funeral home assisting a family, or by contacting the Butte County Clerk Recorder's Office.