frequently asked questions

Ventura County Medical Examiner’s Office

A Medical Examiner is a licensed forensic pathologist (Medical Doctor) with particular expertise in investigating violent, sudden and unexpected, suspicious or unattended deaths. A Coroner is an elected or appointed public officer, usually associated with the Sheriff’s Department, whose primary duty is to determine causes of death. Ventura County employs two full time Forensic Pathologists.

In general, deaths of a sudden and unexpected nature are investigated. All deaths related to any type of injury or intoxication must be investigated by our office. This includes deaths that are obviously due to trauma such as motor vehicle related fatalities and deaths that are known or suspected to be due to drug or alcohol intoxication. (See Deaths that are Reportable)

An autopsy is a surgical examination of the body, inside and out, performed to document injuries, diseases, and even normal conditions of the body. The procedure is performed by a medical doctor with special training in recognizing the appearance of injuries and the effects of diseases.

No. We are not required by law to autopsy all non-natural deaths. At the discretion of the Medical Examiner, an external examination may be used to confirm the cause and manner of death.

No, we do not have viewing areas at the Medical Examiner Office. This activity should take place at the mortuary or funeral home chosen by the next of kin.

At the scene of the death, the Medical Examiner Investigator may take custody of personal property belonging to the decedent. The property is logged, secured, and later released with the body to the mortuary or funeral home chosen by the next of kin for its further delivery to the family.

The Medical Examiner Office does not issue death certificates. You may request them from the mortuary or funeral home the next of kin has chosen.

It means we are unable to record a definitive cause and/or manner of death on the death certificate immediately following our examination. After the exam is completed, it is sometimes necessary for us to perform microscopic, chemical or toxicological tests in order to arrive at the exact cause of death.

This varies depending on microscopic, chemical or toxicological tests that are sent out. In general, Medical Examiner reports are usually ready within 4-6 months from the date of death. To request a report, send an email to or call us at 805-641-4401. We do not accept walk-ins at this time.

One copy will be provided to the legal next of kin free of charge. A Medical Examiner examination packet, which includes the autopsy, investigation and toxicology reports, costs $52.00.  Individual copies are $18.00 each. Checks should be made payable to VCME and sent to 3100 Foothill Road, Ventura, CA 93003. We do not accept online payments, debit/credit cards or cash at this time.

Contact Us

Ventura County Medical Examiner’s Office
3100 Foothill Rd.
Ventura, CA 93003
Tel: (805) 641-4400
Fax: (805) 641-4410