Once a District Attorney is elected, the DA has the power to make many important decisions in and outside of the courtroom. Below are a few decisions a DA can make.
Outside the Courtroom
Investigation of Law Enforcement
- A DA has the power to investigate allegations of law enforcement misconduct and ultimately bring charges.
- A DA also has the power to ask a special prosecutor or another agency to investigate law enforcement misconduct.
Creating Programs and Specialized Units
- A DA has the power to create programs to serve as alternatives to incarceration or to provide resources for the community.
- A DA also has the power to create specialized units within the DA's office focused on addressing prevalent issues within the community.
- A DA has the power to hire Assistant District Attorneys who will prosecute cases.
- A DA also has the power to hire investigators who will investigate cases.
- A DA has the power to review old cases to ensure that wrongful convictions have not occurred.
Inside the Courtroom
- A DA makes the ultimate decision on whether to file charges or dismiss charges against a person.
- Once a DA decides to bring charges, the DA has the power to decide the seriousness of the charges to bring (will the charge be a felony or a misdemeanor?).
- In police brutality cases, a DA has broad discretion to present evidence to a grand jury warranting criminal charges.
- A DA has the power to request bail or bond in a case. By doing so, the DA asks the judge to require the person accused of a crime to pay in order to get out of jail.
- In most jurisdictions, a DA also has discretion to not ask for bail, agreeing instead to the release of a person ahead of trial or plea so long as the person promises to return to court.
Negotiating with the Accused
- A DA has the power to negotiate a plea deal with the accused.
- A DA has the power to offer the accused a diversion program, community service or an alternative to jail.
Other Decisions (Based on State)
- In states where the Death Penalty is permitted, a DA makes the decision on when to pursue it.
- Similarly in states where children may be charged as adults, a DA decides when that is warranted.