District Attorney

Find district attorney, DA, and county, prosecuting, state, and commonwealth attorneys. District attorneys provide information on criminal court cases, public safety, legal cases, and law documents.

What is a District Attorney?

A district attorney is a prosecutor who represents the government in proceedings against criminals in a particular geographical area. State, county, and city district attorneys are widely known under the traditional acronym DA. Many states, however, have various names for the role, including state attorney or commonwealth attorney. Despite the differences in title, most essential functions of district attorneys remain the same. A DA acts in the name of the public and on behalf of the state to protect public safety by prosecuting criminals, initiating investigations, and taking charge of bringing criminals to justice by recommending criminal penalties.

Many states have one district attorney, but some have several. This is why there are more than 50 federal district attorneys in the United States, each of whom is assigned to a particular district that may not correspond to just one state. To be able to manage all legal cases across a district, every DA has a team of assistants. Although most DAs handle only criminal cases, some state attorneys also deal with law documents from civil procedures when a case involves public interest. According to legal practice in the United States, DAs are assigned by election and appointment.

District Attorneys are responsible for

  1. Protecting the public safety from criminal offenders, by raising charges for committed crimes and cooperating with law enforcement agencies to complete legal cases against offenders.
  2. Providing information on criminal court cases and responding to the public for official work done in their line of work.
  3. Overseeing the work of assistant district attorneys who are accountable for lower instance legal cases within their jurisdictions.
  4. Investigating evidence of criminal behavior, and deciding whether a particular offense is a crime.
  5. Conducting trials in the public's interest, selecting juries, litigating appeals and offering plea bargains.

Are there different types of District Attorneys?

The principal differences between district attorneys are related to the scope of their work, their geographical areas of responsibility and the ways they're assigned to duty. Depending on the case law and law documents of a particular state, many DAs can perform some civil duties of public interest but are nonetheless known under the same name. Given geographical jurisdiction, DAs can act as state district attorneys, county district attorneys, and city or municipal district attorneys. Only Virginia calls these legal professionals commonwealth attorneys, while many other states use the title deputy attorney general.