The District Attorney (DA), in many jurisdictions in the United States, is the elected or appointed official who represents the government in the prosecution of criminal offenses. The district attorney is the highest officeholder in the legal department of the jurisdiction Ц generally the county in the U.S. Ц and supervises a staff of assistant (ADA) or deputy district attorneys. Depending on the system in place, district attorneys may be appointed by the chief executive of the region or elected by the voters of the jurisdiction.
An Executive Assistant District Attorney (EADA), Chief Assistant District Attorney (CADA), or First Assistant District Attorney is a title given the senior-most manager in a prosecutor's office under the district attorney. The people who hold these titles are generally considered the second-in-command for the office, and usually report directly to the head prosecutor. 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, the EADA may oversee or prosecute some of the larger crimes within the jurisdiction. In some offices the Executive Assistant District Attorney has the responsibility of hiring lawyers and other staff members. Often, the EADA supervises press-releases and oversees the work of the office staff.
Functions similar to those performed by a District Attorney are carried out at the local level in other jurisdictions by officers named the Commonwealth's Attorney, State's Attorney, County Attorney, or County Prosecutor. In the United Kingdom, positions equivalent to a District Attorney are the Chief Crown Prosecutors (or Crown Prosecutors in the case of Deputy or Assistant District Attorneys) of the Crown Prosecution Service i
England and Wales, the Procurator Fiscal in Scotland, and the Director of Public Prosecutions in Northern Ireland.
The prosecutor is the chief legal representative of the prosecution in countries with either the common law adversarial system, or the civil law inquisitorial system. The prosecution is the legal party responsible for presenting the case in a criminal trial against an individual accused of breaking the law.
Prosecutors are typically lawyers who possess a law degree, and are recognized as legal professionals by the court in which they intend to represent the state (the society) (that is, they have been admitted to the bar).
They usually only become involved in a criminal case once a suspect has been identified and charges need to be filed. They are typically employed by an office of the government, with safeguards in place to ensure such an office can successfully pursue the prosecution of government officials. Often, multiple offices exist in a single country, especially those countries with federal governments where sovereignty has been bifurcated or devolved in some way.
Since prosecutors are backed by the power of the state, they are usually subject to special professional responsibility rules in addition to those binding all lawyers. For example, in the United States, Rule 3.8 of the ABA Model Rules of Professional Conduct requires prosecutors to "make timely disclosure to the defense of all evidence or information ... that tends to negate the guilt of the accused or mitigates the offense." Not all U.S. states adopt the model rules, however U.S. Supreme Court cases and other appellate cases have ruled that such disclosure is required. Typical sources of ethical requirements imposed on prosecutors come from appellate court opinions, state or federal court rules, and state or federal statutes (codified laws).