Laguna Woods, CA asked in Gov & Administrative Law for California

Q: How many days do they have to do the actual autopsy after death? Shouldn’t it be done at least 48 hours after death?

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1 Lawyer Answer
William John Light
William John Light
  • Riverside, CA
  • Licensed in California

A: Depends. The body might not even be in the coroner's custody withing 48 hours of death.

For an infant, autopsies are supposed to be completed in 24 hours. Government Code § 27491.41.

For all deaths, if the coroner is informed that a a certificate of religious belief was signed by the decedent, the autopsy shall be delayed for 48 hours to allow production of the certificate. Government Code § 27491.43

I am unaware of any other time requirements of the Government Code that mandate completion of an autopsy. Government Code § 27490, et seq. There may be interoffice standards by which autopsies should be completed, but those would not have the force of law. Inquire with the Coroner's Office for more detailed information on this topic.

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