|Law practice, law enforcement, politics|
|Competencies||Advocacy skills, analytical mind, sense of justice, political fit|
|Law degree, bar exam|
|Government legal service|
|Prosecutor, state's attorney, commonwealth's attorney, United States attorney|
In the United States, a district attorney (DA), state's attorney, prosecuting attorney, or state attorney is the chief prosecutor representing a U.S. state in a local government area, typically a county. The exact name and scope of the office varies by state. Alternative titles for the office include county attorney, commonwealth's attorney, solicitor, or county prosecutor.
The prosecution is the legal party responsible for presenting the case against an individual suspected of breaking the law, initiating and directing further criminal investigations, guiding and recommending the sentencing of offenders, and are the only attorneys allowed to participate in grand jury proceedings. The prosecutors decide what criminal charges to bring, and when and where a person will answer to those charges. In carrying out their duties, prosecutors have the authority to investigate persons, grant immunity to witnesses and accused criminals, and plea bargain with defendants.
A district attorney leads a staff of prosecutors, who are most commonly known as deputy district attorneys (DDAs). The deputy who serves as the supervisor of the office is often called the assistant district attorney. Most prosecutions will be delegated to DDAs, with the district attorney prosecuting the most important cases and having overall responsibility for their agency and its work. Depending upon the system in place, DAs may be appointed by the chief executive of the jurisdiction or elected by local voters.
This term for a prosecutor originates with the traditional use of the term "district" for multi-county prosecutorial jurisdictions in several U.S. states. For example, New York appointed prosecutors to multi-county districts prior to 1813. Even after those states broke up such districts and started appointing or electing prosecutors for individual counties, they continued to use the title "district attorney" for the most senior prosecutor in a county rather than switch to "county attorney".
The principal duties of the district attorney are usually mandated by law and include representing the State in all criminal trials for crimes which occurred in the district attorney's geographical jurisdiction. The geographical jurisdiction of a district attorney may be delineated by the boundaries of a county, judicial circuit, or judicial district.
Their duties generally include charging crimes through informations and/or grand jury indictments. After levying criminal charges, the state's attorney will then prosecute those charged with a crime. This includes conducting discovery, plea bargaining, and trial.
In some jurisdictions, the district attorney may act as chief counsel for city police, county police, state police and all state law enforcement agencies within the state's attorney's jurisdiction.
In some jurisdictions, the district attorney oversees the operations of local prosecutors with respect to violations of county ordinances. In other jurisdictions, the district attorney prosecutes traffic matters and/or misdemeanors. In some states the district attorney prosecutes violations of state laws to the extent that the state permits local prosecution of these. District attorneys do not prosecute federal crimes, which are the jurisdiction of a United States Attorney.
Many district attorneys also bear responsibilities not related to criminal prosecution. These include defending the county against civil suits, occasionally initiating such suits on behalf of the county, preparing or reviewing contracts entered into by the county and providing legal advice and counsel to local government. In some jurisdictions, the county attorney does not handle any criminal matters at all, but serves only as the legal counsel to the county.
For example, in Arizona, Missouri, Montana, and Minnesota a county attorney represents the county and state within their county, prosecutes all felonies occurring within the county, and prosecutes misdemeanors occurring within unincorporated areas of the county. In Ohio a county prosecutor represents the county and state within their county, prosecutes all crimes within the county, and is legal adviser to the board of county commissioners, board of elections, and all other county officers and boards.On the other hand, county attorneys in Kentucky and Virginia prosecute only certain misdemeanors and sometimes traffic matters and serve as legal counsel for their county, with felony prosecutions and prosecutions of offenses not handled by the county attorney being the responsibility of the commonwealth's attorney for the given county.
The district attorney usually divides their services into several departments that handle different areas of criminal law. Each department is staffed by several duly appointed and sworn ASAs. The departments of a large district attorney's office may include but are not limited to: felony, misdemeanor, domestic violence, traffic, juvenile, charging (or case filing), drug prosecution, forfeitures, civil affairs such as eminent domain, child advocacy, child support, victim assistance, appeals, career criminal prosecution, homicide, investigations, organized crime/gang, and administration.
The name of the role of local prosecutor may vary by state or jurisdiction based on whether they serve a county or a multi-county district, the responsibility to represent the state or county in addition to prosecution, or local historical customs.
District attorney and assistant district attorney are the most common titles for state prosecutors, and are used by jurisdictions within the United States including California, Delaware, Georgia, Massachusetts, Nevada, New York, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Texas, and Wisconsin.
State's attorney or state attorney is used in Connecticut, Florida (state attorney), Illinois, Maryland, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Vermont. In Maryland, the roles of Assistant and Deputy are reversed from those used in "District Attorney" jurisdictions, with Deputy State's Attorney being the primary subordinate to the elected State's Attorney and Assistant State's Attorneys (ASA) being the line-level prosecutors of the office.
In Kentucky and Virginia, the title is commonwealth's attorney. Commonwealth's attorneys are elected in their respective jurisdictions in both Virginia and Kentuckyfor terms of four years and six years, respectively.
In St. Louis, Missouri, the title is circuit attorney,while in St. Louis County, Missouri, the title is prosecuting attorney.
The assistant district attorney (assistant DA, ADA) (or state prosecutor or assistant state's attorney) is a law enforcement official who represents the state government on behalf of the district attorney in investigating and prosecuting individuals alleged to have committed a crime. In carrying out their duties to enforce state and local laws, ADA have the authority to investigate persons, issue subpoenas, file formal criminal charges, plea bargain with defendants, and grant immunity to witnesses and accused criminals.
Administrative assistant district attorney (admin ADA), executive assistant district attorney (exec ADA), chief assistant district attorney (chief ADA), or first assistant district attorney (First ADA) are some of the titles given to the senior ADA leadership working under the DA. The chief ADA or first ADA, depending on the office, is generally considered the second-in-command, and usually reports directly to the DA. The exact roles and job assignments for each title vary with each individual office, but generally include management of the daily activities and supervision of specialized divisions within the office. Often, a senior ADA may oversee or prosecute some of the larger crimes within the jurisdiction. In some offices, the Exec ADA has the responsibility of hiring lawyers and support staff, as well as supervising press-releases and overseeing the work of the office.[ citation needed ]
The salary of an ADA will be lower than the elected DA. The non-monetary benefits of the job induce many to work as an ADA; these include the opportunity to amass trial experience, perform a public service, and network professionally.
Upon leaving employment as an ASA, persons seek employment as a judge, in private law firms, or as U.S. Attorneys.
Depending on state law, appeals are moved to appellate courts (also called appeals courts, courts of appeals, superior courts, or supreme courts in some states). During the appeals process district attorneys, in many cases, hands all relative prosecutorial materials to a state appellate prosecutor who in turn will represent the state in appellate courts with the advice and consent of the district attorney.
Some district attorneys maintain their own law enforcement arm whose members are sworn peace officers. Depending on the jurisdiction, they are referred to as district attorney investigators or county detectives .
In England and Wales, the vast majority of criminal prosecutions are prosecuted by the Crown Prosecution Service. The CPS is headed by the Director of Public Prosecutions, who is appointed by the Attorney General for England and Wales. Within the CPS, 14 Chief Crown Prosecutors, answering to the DPP, head regional teams of Crown Prosecutors.With the exception of the AG and Solicitor General for England and Wales, no prosecutors are political officials in England and Wales and no prosecutor in England and Wales is a law enforcement official by virtue of their job.
In Canada, the equivalent position to a district attorney is a crown attorney , crown counsel or crown prosecutor depending on the province, and the equivalent to an assistant district attorney is the assistant crown attorney, assistant crown counsel or assistant crown prosecutor respectively.
Within some criminal justice systems, a preliminary hearing, preliminary examination, preliminary inquiry, evidentiary hearing or probable cause hearing is a proceeding, after a criminal complaint has been filed by the prosecutor, to determine whether there is enough evidence to require a trial. At such a hearing, the defendant may be assisted by a lawyer.
In most common law jurisdictions, the attorney general or attorney-general is the main legal advisor to the government. The plural is attorneys general. In some jurisdictions, attorneys general also have executive responsibility for law enforcement, prosecutions or even responsibility for legal affairs generally. In practice, the extent to which the attorney general personally provides legal advice to the government varies between jurisdictions, and even between individual office-holders within the same jurisdiction, often depending on the level and nature of the office-holder's prior legal experience.
The Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) is the office or official charged with the prosecution of criminal offences in several criminal jurisdictions around the world. The title is used mainly in jurisdictions that are or have been members of the Commonwealth of Nations.
The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) is the principal public agency for conducting criminal prosecutions in England and Wales. It is headed by the Director of Public Prosecutions.
A prosecutor is a legal representative of the prosecution in countries with either the common law adversarial system or the civil law inquisitorial system. The prosecution is the legal party responsible for presenting the case in a criminal trial against an individual accused of breaking the law. Typically, the prosecutor represents the government in the case brought against the accused person.
Crown attorneys or crown counsel are the prosecutors in the legal system of Canada.
The Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service is the independent public prosecution service for Scotland, and is a Ministerial Department of the Scottish Government. The department is headed by Her Majesty's Lord Advocate, who under the Scottish legal system is responsible for prosecution, along with the area procurators fiscal. In Scotland, virtually all prosecution of criminal offences is undertaken by the Crown. Private prosecutions are extremely rare.
A procurator fiscal, sometimes called PF or fiscal, is a public prosecutor in Scotland, who has the power to impose fiscal fines. They investigate all sudden and suspicious deaths in Scotland, conduct fatal accident inquiries and handle criminal complaints against the police. They also receive reports from specialist reporting agencies such as Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs.
Crown prosecutors are the public prosecutors in the legal system of Australia. In Western Australia, they are referred to as State prosecutors.
A criminal defense lawyer is a lawyer specializing in the defense of individuals and companies charged with criminal activity. Some criminal defense lawyers are privately retained, while others are employed by the various jurisdictions with criminal courts for appointment to represent indigent persons; the latter are generally called public defenders. The terminology is imprecise because each jurisdiction may have different practices with various levels of input from state and federal law or consent decrees. Some jurisdictions use a rotating system of appointments, with judges appointing a private practice attorney or firm for each case.
A private prosecution is a criminal proceeding initiated by an individual private citizen or private organisation instead of by a public prosecutor who represents the state. Private prosecutions are allowed in many jurisdictions under common law, but have become less frequent in modern times as most prosecutions are now handled by professional public prosecutors instead of private individuals who retain barristers.
The California Department of Justice is a statewide investigative law enforcement agency and legal department of the California executive branch under the elected leadership of the California Attorney General (AG) which carries out complex criminal and civil investigations, prosecutions, and other legal services throughout the US state of California. The Department is equivalent to the State Bureau of Investigation in other states.
The Milwaukee County District Attorney is a state constitutional officer responsible for criminal prosecution in Milwaukee County, Wisconsin. The current district attorney is John T. Chisholm, who has served since 2007.
The San Diego County District Attorney is the elected district attorney for San Diego County, California. This office is responsible for the prosecution of both felony and misdemeanor violations of California state law that occur within the jurisdiction of San Diego County, California. Courts within their jurisdiction includes the San Diego Superior Court, the California Court of Appeal for the Fourth District, and the California Supreme Court. Federal law violations are prosecuted by the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of California. The current District Attorney is Summer Stephan, who replaced Bonnie Dumanis on an interim basis after the latter resigned in July 2017.
Grand juries in the United States are groups of citizens empowered by United States federal or state law to conduct legal proceedings, chiefly investigating potential criminal conduct and determining whether criminal charges should be brought. The grand jury originated under the law of England and spread through colonization to other jurisdictions as part of the common law. Today, however, the United States is one of only two jurisdictions, along with Liberia, that continues to use the grand jury to screen criminal indictments.
The Constitution itself anchors the role of the Director of Public Prosecutions in Kenya. The Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (ODPP) is the National Prosecuting Authority in Kenya. The Constitution mandates it to prosecute all criminal cases in the country.
The County of Hawaii, Office of the Prosecuting Attorney, Criminal Investigations Unit is the law enforcement agency for the County of Hawaii, Office of the Prosecuting Attorney. It is tasked with full state police powers to enforces all State laws and Department rules, conducts investigations of the most complex, confidential, and diverse civil/criminal cases being considered and/or readied for court action and prosecution; obtains additional information, evidence, and facts to clarify or substantiate findings of law enforcement agencies; secures, interviews, and interrogates witnesses complainants, and suspects; conducts highly confidential investigations for the Attorney General's Office; special career criminal suppression investigations; arrest subjects, processes and serves legal papers; conduct warrant investigations and extraditions; coordinates investigations and works closely with the Hawai‘i Police Department, military, and federal law enforcement agencies, and all levels of the court system.
The Criminal Investigations Division conducts investigations in support of the department's civil, criminal, and administrative cases. These investigations involve such areas as homeland security; Internet crimes against children; high technology computer crimes; drug nuisance abatement; environmental crimes; tobacco tax enforcement; airport, harbors, and highways; cold homicide cases; and other criminal and civil matters.
The Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions is the principal public agency for conducting criminal prosecutions in the Republic of Ireland. It is led by the Director of Public Prosecutions.
Bruce Beemer is an American attorney and jurist serving as a judge on the Allegheny County Court of Common Pleas. He served as the 49th Pennsylvania Attorney General from 2016 to 2017 and as Inspector General of Pennsylvania from 2016 to 2019. He was nominated to the Allegheny County Court of Common Pleas by Governor Tom Wolf and unanimously confirmed by the Pennsylvania State Senate in November 2019. He was sworn in on January 3, 2020.
|Wikisource has the text of the 1905 New International Encyclopedia article " District Attorney ".|