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What does a Deputy District Attorney do?

By C. Webb
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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A deputy district attorney works under the supervision of a district attorney (DA) in carrying out prosecution duties for both misdemeanor and felony court cases. When a defendant is charged with a crime, it is up to the office of the district attorney to determine whether a case can be made against that person. The deputy DA plays an instrumental part in that determination as well as any subsequent prosecution. He or she researches the law, interviews witnesses, and handles the courtroom prosecution of defendants.

When law enforcement officials make a misdemeanor arrest, they then turn over evidence and reports to the district attorney's office for examination. The deputy district attorney will take on the responsibility of building the case against that defendant. This process can include interviewing victims and potential witnesses to determine the likelihood of winning the case. In addition, the DA's office checks a defendant's background to find out whether the defendant has a criminal history.

If the government's prosecutor decides to proceed with the case, the deputy DA will appear in court on the state's behalf and prosecute the case. Typically, after speaking to the involved parties, he or she then prepares a plea offer, which the defendant's attorney presents to the defendant. If the defendant accepts the offer, the deal is presented to the judge, but if he or she refuses the plea offer, the deputy district attorney represents the government during the hearing and takes notes throughout the process to refer back to later, as needed.

When handling a felony case, this attorney generally represents the government during initial court proceedings and might be called upon to present the case to the grand jury. If the grand jury indicts the defendant, he or she may be asked to continue with the prosecution through the court hearing or jury trial. If it is a very serious charge, such as murder, the district attorney will typically take over at that point. The deputy will still assist in the case by gathering research and conducting interviews.

There are other duties that are generally given to this prosecutor as well, including preparing pleadings, advising complainants and witnesses as the case progresses, and helping to prepare witnesses to take the stand. He or she will also appear at parole hearings to speak on behalf of the government.

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Discussion Comments

By Vincenzo — On Jan 03, 2015

@Soulfox -- You don't just find young lawyers working as deputy district attorneys. There are a number of experienced attorneys who take those jobs, too.

Why? They believe they can be great criminal attorneys by helping the state punish criminals. For those who have a passion for law enforcement, making a career as a deputy district attorney isn't a bad move at all.

By Soulfox — On Jan 02, 2015

Those deputy district attorneys are sometimes called prosecuting attorneys in some states. At any rate, landing a job as a deputy district attorney is often a way for young attorneys to start their careers.

A district attorney gets plenty of trial experience, a solid paycheck, health insurance and enough legal experience to choke a horse. A good number of deputy district attorneys go on to become elected as district attorneys while others set up successful private practices.

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