District attorneys are the top local law enforcement official in any jurisdiction they serve. They’re usually elected by the residents of a county, although the state can also appoint district attorneys in some jurisdictions.
The office of the district attorney (DA) has a range of responsibilities. District attorneys are responsible for reviewing court records, prosecuting criminals, and they also work with law enforcement agencies.
Police departments, sheriff offices, and other law enforcement agencies bring evidence of crimes to a district attorney's attention, and he or she investigates and prosecutes criminals. Criminals with the worst inmate records receive the most attention from DAs.
The district attorney is solely responsible for deciding whether or not to press charges against individuals accused of criminal conduct. The attorney can’t be compelled by judges, police officials or any other influence to charge an individual unless that person is likely to be guilty.
Even though a presiding judge can’t force the district attorney to file an indictment or charge an individual, the judge can dismiss criminal charges due to lack of evidence. Therefore, before charging someone with a crime, the district attorney must ensure there is enough evidence to meet the burden of proof needed for a conviction.
After charging a defendant, the DA prosecuting the case must make convincing arguments and present compelling evidence before the judge or jury. He or she must also overcome the arguments presented on a defendant's behalf by the public defender or criminal defense attorney.
If a defendant is convicted, the district attorney must later defend the conviction against the defendant's appeals to a higher court. The DA must submit strong legal arguments regarding why a conviction shouldn't be overturned by the appellate court.
The district attorney may also be responsible for providing legal opinions and overall attorney services in civil matters on behalf of a city or town government, especially when that DA is serving as both criminal prosecutor and city attorney in a small community.
The district attorney also works closely with the state parole board when prison inmates seek early release. The parole board often asks the local district attorney to investigate whether it should release an inmate from custody.
The legal limitations of a district attorney’s authority usually aren’t as clear as those of local law enforcement agencies. Even though a district attorney is appointed or elected to serve in a specific jurisdiction, the Governor or State Attorney General may ask him or her to investigate and prosecute cases outside the home jurisdiction, particularly those involving state officials.
There is a DA in every county. You may also have a district attorney in your city as well. You can find the nearest district attorney through this directory and located the records you are looking for.