City Attorney Frequently Asked Questions


The Carmel-by-the-Sea Municipal Code is the “Constitution” of the City which is the highest legal authority in the City.

 The City Attorney is the chief legal advisor, and Attorney for the City and all Departments and offices thereof, in matters relating to their official powers and duties.  It is the City Attorney’s duty, either personally or by such assistants as he may designate, to perform all services incident to the legal department, and give advice, when so requested to the Council,   Boards and Commissions and the City Administrator.  Further, the City Attorney is charged with prosecuting or defending, all lawsuits in which the City has become a party.  Litigation may be handled directly by the City Attorney’s office or through outside counsel as may be assigned by the City’s insurance carrier or by assignment from the City Attorney’s office.

The City Attorney is charged with the responsibility of prosecuting persons or entities charged with violations of the Carmel Municipal Code or state laws occurring within the City limits of the City of Carmel-by-the-Sea for Municipal Code or ordinance violations, infractions or misdemeanors.

Can the City Attorney give legal advice to private citizens?

The Carmel- by-the-Sea Attorney’s office cannot provide legal advice to private citizens or residents within the City of Carmel-by-the-Sea.

How do I get a copy of the municipal code?

The Municipal Code is available for review at the City Clerk’s office, or may be accessed on the line at

 The City of Carmel-by-the-Sea’s Municipal Code contains all ordinances for the City of Carmel-by-the-Sea.  The Municipal Code is organized by Division.  A Table of Contents is provided to facilitate location of specific divisions.  The Municipal Code is updated as new ordinances are adopted by the City Council and listed under the Municipal Code Chapters.

What is the difference between the City Attorney and the District Attorney? 

The City Attorney’s office prosecutes infractions and misdemeanors within the Carmel-by-the-Sea City limits.  The District Attorney’s office handles all felony matters committed within the City of Carmel-by-the-Sea City limits.

Who does the City Attorney work for? 

A: Under a General law City, the City Attorney provides advice to the City’s elected officials, the City Administrator, City Staff, the City’s department heads as well as the City’s independent boards and commissions.

Who do I call to report a crime?

A: For emergencies call 911.  Non-emergencies should be reported to the Carmel Police Department at Telephone: (831) 624-6403 Fax: (831) 624-1292.

How many divisions are there in the City Attorney’s Office?

There are four divisions of the City Attorney’s Office.

ADVISORY – The City Attorney’s Office provides advice to the City and each of its departments, including the City Council and Mayor.

CIVIL LITIGATION – The City Attorney’s Office prosecutes and defends civil lawsuits in which the City is a party.

CRIMINAL – The City Attorney’s Office prosecutes infractions and criminal misdemeanors committed within the City limits of Carmel-by-the-Sea.

ENVIRONMENTAL -   The City Attorney’s Office prosecutes violations of law that arise from consumer transactions or actions such as complaints of false or misleading advertising.  This Division also handles transactions or actions that damage the environment.  Most cases handled by this Division come from enforcement agencies.  For a list of agencies that investigate consumer complaints, please contact the City Attorney’s Office.