District Attorney Law & Legal Definition


A district attorney is an elected or appointed public official of a county or designated district whose duties are governed by state law. Generally, the duties of a district attorney are to manage the prosecutor's office, investigate alleged crimes in cooperation with law enforcement, and file criminal charges or bringing evidence before the Grand Jury. Specific duties may include the following:

  1. To attend on the grand juries, advise them in relation to matters of law, and examine and swear witnesses before them.
  2. To draw up all indictments and to prosecute all indictable offenses.
  3. To prosecute and defend any civil action in the circuit court in the prosecution or defense of which the state is interested.
  4. To inquire whether registers have kept accurate required record books.
  5. If a criminal prosecution is removed from a court of his or her circuit, county, or division of a county to a court of the United States, to appear in that court and represent the state; and, if it is impracticable, consistent with his or her other duties, to attend that court, he or she may designate and appoint an attorney practicing therein to appear for and represent the state.
  6. To attend each special session of the circuit court held for the trial of persons charged with criminal offenses.
  7. To perform other duties and exercise other powers as are or may be required by law.
  8. To give every county official an opinion in writing on all matters connected with their respective offices, except in civil actions against official bonds. But county commissions may retain or employ attorneys when it is deemed advisable or necessary, and the agreed compensation to them may be paid as are claims to grand and petit jurors.
  9. To, whenever requested to do so by the Governor or by the Board of Pardons and Paroles, make a full and thorough investigation in each case arising in their circuit, county, or division of a county, and fully report their findings, with recommendations that pardon or parole be granted or refused, and they shall assign fully and in detail their reasons for the recommendations.
  10. To go to any place in the state and prosecute any case or cases, or work with any grand jury, when called upon to do so by the Attorney General or the Governor, and to attend sessions of courts and transact all of the duties of the district attorney in the courts whenever called upon by the Attorney General or the Governor to do so.
  11. All district attorneys and all full-time assistant district attorneys shall devote their entire time to the discharge of the duties of their respective offices, and each and every one of the officers are prohibited from practicing law, directly or indirectly, in any court of this state or of the United States, or in any other manner or form whatsoever, except in the discharge of the official duties of their offices.
  12. To carefully read and check the record on appeal in all criminal cases appealed from the circuit court of their judicial circuit to the Court of Criminal Appeals or the Supreme Court of the state, and call to the attention of the trial judge any errors or discrepancies that may appear in the record.
  13. To, whenever requested by the Attorney General, file memorandum briefs in all criminal cases appealed from the circuit court of their judicial circuits to the Court of Criminal Appeals or the Supreme Court of the state.
  14. To attend all hearings in their judicial circuits on any application for probation and furnish the trial judge or the judge hearing the application with all information in their possession concerning the applicant for probation.
  15. To represent the board of registrars of the county or counties comprising their judicial circuits in all civil actions for damages that are filed against the boards of registrars arising out of the performance of their official duties, in either the circuit court of their judicial circuits or in the United States district courts.
  16. To attend all clemency hearings before the Governor of the state, in all cases arising in their judicial circuits, and furnish to the Governor, at those hearings, all pertinent information in their possession concerning the applicant or applicants for clemency.
  17. To attend all hearings in their respective judicial circuits for revocation of probation and furnish the trial judge, or the judge hearing the revocation, with all information in their possession concerning the case.
  18. To, at any time the grand jury is not in session, issue subpoenas to persons to come before them, and they shall have power to administer oaths to those persons and examine them as to any violation of the criminal laws of the state.
  19. To make application to the courts to place witnesses in criminal cases under bond for their appearance in court when they have information that the witnesses are about to leave the state.
  20. To, when requested to do so, represent the chief of police of any municipality in their respective judicial circuits in all habeas corpus proceedings filed in the circuit courts of their respective judicial circuits.
  21. To, when requested to do so by the Attorney General, assist the Attorney General in the prosecution of all impeachment proceedings which it is his or her duty to institute before a court involving any official or officials in their respective judicial circuits.
  22. To report to the State Board of Medical Examiners the name and address of any physician who is indicted or otherwise charged with any felony or any misdemeanor related to the practice of medicine.