Denise Oncken - Mental Health Bureau Chief

Denise Oncken, a native Houstonian, has been an Assistant District Attorney with the Harris County District Attorney’s Office for over 35 years. She oversees the Special Victims & Mental Health Bureau, which includes the Adult Sex Crimes, Crimes Against Children, Domestic Violence, Mental Health, Child Fatality and Victim Services Divisions.

She is a well-respected prosecutor with a diverse background at the District Attorney’s Office, including serving as Division Chief over Mental Health, Crimes Against Children, and Child Abuse, and as Chief Prosecutor of several Criminal District Courts (handling Capital Murder cases), Chief Prosecutor in the Special Crimes Bureau Drug Task Force and a specialized prosecutor handling domestic violence cases as well as child sexual abuse cases. 

As a Division Chief over Crimes Against Children, Oncken was a founding partner in the creation of the Harris County Children’s Assessment Center and formulated the first Child Exploitation Section. Further, Oncken worked with local leaders in the creation of the Judge Ed Emmett Mental Health Diversion Center, which opened in the fall of 2018. 

Oncken has served on numerous advisory boards, committees, and councils. In 2018, she was the only Assistant District Attorney appointed to the Judicial Commission on Mental Health by the Supreme Court of Texas and the Court of Criminal Appeals. She was appointed by the governor in 2014 to the Advisory Committee to the Texas Board of Criminal Justice on Offenders with Medical and Mental Impairments. She was also appointed to the Joint Committee on Access and Forensic Services in 2015 on behalf of Texas District and County Attorneys Association (TDCAA).

Oncken was a founding member and past chair on the State Child Fatality Review Team Committee. She is a frequent speaker on behalf of the Harris County District Attorney’s Office, and has presented at conferences for the TDCAA, the State Bar of Texas, the Correctional Management Institute of Texas, and State Hospital Forensic Conferences, among others.

She is an honor graduate of the University of Houston with bachelor’s and master’s degrees in business. She is a December 1985 graduate of the South Texas College of Law and has been licensed in Texas since May 1986. She is a member of the highly acclaimed Texas Prosecutor Society, inducted in 2016, Houston Bar Association (serving on several committees), Life Fellow of the Houston Bar Foundation, and co-chair in 2017-19 of the Texas Bar Association.