In the United States, a district attorney (DA) is the chief prosecutor
in a local government area, typically a county. The exact name of the
office varies by state.
Except in the smallest counties, a district attorney leads a staff of
prosecutors, who are most commonly known as assistant district
attorneys (ADAs). The majority of prosecutions will be delegated to
ADAs, 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.
The prosecution is the legal party responsible for presenting the case
against an individual who is 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.
1 History and role
3 Other jurisdictions
4 Assistant district attorney
5 See also
7 External links
History and role
United States Judiciary Act of 1789, Section 35, provided for the
appointment of a person in each judicial district to prosecute federal
crimes and to represent the
United States in all civil actions to
which it was a party. Initially, there were 13 districts to cover the
11 States that had by that time ratified the constitution. Each State
was a district, except for
Massachusetts and Virginia which formed
two. Districts were added when additional States were admitted. The
statute did not confer a title upon these local agents of federal
authority, but subsequent statutes and court decisions referred to
them most frequently as "district attorneys". In 1948, the Judicial
Code adopted the term "
United States attorneys".
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".
“District attorney” and “assistant district attorney” are the
most common titles for state prosecutors, and are used by several
major jurisdictions within the United States, such as California,
Delaware, Georgia, Massachusetts, Nevada, New York, North Carolina,
Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Texas, and Wisconsin.
St. Louis, Missouri
St. Louis, Missouri the title is circuit attorney. Alternative
titles for the office include commonwealth's attorney, state's
attorney, county attorney, circuit solicitor, or county
In the United Kingdom, the equivalent position to a district attorney
is a chief crown prosecutor, and the equivalent to an assistant
district attorney is a crown prosecutor. These prosecutors work
Crown Prosecution Service
Crown Prosecution Service in
England and Wales, the
Procurator Fiscal in Scotland, and the Director of Public Prosecutions
in Northern Ireland. In many other countries, the title of the chief
prosecuting officer is Director of Public Prosecutions.
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. Except in Ontario, the chief prosecutor is an appointed
Assistant district attorney
The assistant district attorney (assistant DA, ADA), or state
prosecutor, is a law enforcement official who represents the state
government on behalf of the district attorney (DA) in investigating
and prosecuting individuals alleged to have committed a crime. In
carrying out their duties to enforce state and local laws, ADAs 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.
List of district attorneys by county
Allegheny County District Attorney
Baltimore County State's Attorney
Bronx County District Attorney
Cook County State's Attorney
Dallas County District Attorney
Denver District Attorney's Office
District Attorney of Philadelphia
Essex County Prosecutor's Office
King County Prosecuting Attorney
Kings County District Attorney
Law and order (politics)
Los Angeles County District Attorney
Milwaukee County District Attorney
New York County District Attorney
Prosecuting Attorney of Honolulu
Queens County District Attorney
Richmond County District Attorney
San Diego County District Attorney
San Francisco District Attorney's Office
^ a b "Standards on Prosecutorial Investigations". abanet.org.
American Bar Association. 2017. Retrieved November 13, 2017.
^ "History of the Federal Judiciary – Federal Judicial Center".
www.fjc.gov. Retrieved November 13, 2017.
^ "City Of St. Louis Circuit Attorney's Office – Kimberly M. Gardner
– Circuit Attorney". www.circuitattorney.org. Retrieved November 13,
^ "About The CPS : Chief Crown Prosecutors". www.cps.gov.uk.
Retrieved November 13, 2017.
Prosecutor Careers: The Crown Prosecution Service".
www.cps.gov.uk. Retrieved November 13, 2017.
Wikisource has the text of the 1905 New International Encyclopedia
article District Attorney.
National District Attorneys Association website
Prosecuting Attorneys, District Attorneys, Attorneys General & US
Attorneys on the Web—indexes prosecutor web sites throughout the USA