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District Attorney

Each state government maintains a department of justice responsible for the prosecution of crimes against state or local ordinances. These departments are staffed by attorneys who present the government's evidence to a judge or jury for a final determination of guilt. Known as District Attorney (DA) or Assistant State Attorneys, these legal professionals are elected or appointed by the government of each district. These officials along with Assistant District Attorneys/ Deputy District Attorneys represent a district or state for appeal cases in the district courts of their jurisdiction. They are granted wide discretion with regard to deciding whether to prosecute, what charges to file and whether to permit a plea agreement. After pronouncement of judgment they examine the judgment and tender their legal advice as to whether the particular case is fit for filing appeal in the next higher court or not. There shall be one or more Deputy/ Assistant District Attorneys to assist the District attorney. Assistant District Attorneys/ Deputy District Attorneys posted in the District are accountable to the District Attorneys and District Attorneys posted in the District level are further answerable to the Director of Prosecution in criminal cases and in civil cases. Depending upon the size of the District Attorney's office, they may have multiple units that focus upon different types of crime such as domestic violence, homicide, appellate work or sex crimes. They have to work with several other officials such as assistant district attorneys or deputy district attorneys, legal secretaries, qualified lawyers etc. The primary function of the District Attorney is to prosecute criminal offences in a designated state or district on behalf of the government. In order to prosecute the criminals, the District attorneys work in cooperation with law enforcement officials (police) who had investigated the crime. While preparing the facts of the case against the accused, the district attorney make use of the evidence and information gathered by the law enforcement officials during their investigation. District attorneys initiate prosecution on a case when they get enough solid evidence such as a murder weapon or surveillance tapes to win the case. They files criminal charges against the accused and present it before a judge or a grand jury to obtain an indictment, or approval to prosecute the accused. If there is not enough evidence to support the case, they do not file charges before a judge until they get enough proof from the investigators. If any new evidence, which may acquit accused, is discovered during prosecutions, the DAs must inform the court of trial about it. District attorneys have a wide variety of responsibilities which involves providing job-related legal advice to state officials, working with the state legislature on revising or creating legislation and training and advising local law enforcement about investigation procedures. It is the responsibility of the district attorneys to inform an accused criminal about his legal rights. The DAs never suppress facts or hide witnesses capable of establishing the innocence of the accused. They also attend arraignments (the first time the defendant appears in court), bail and motion hearings, examines eyewitnesses as well as expert witness such as medical examiners. Their job also involves rectifying wrongdoings committed against the public. So besides prosecuting the criminals, there are some DAs who work for preventing crimes taking place in the district. For this they develop community programs with the hope that it will deter young people from doing crime. They may also provide crime education projects to teach the public and law enforcement officials about crime prevention. How to become a District AttorneyELIGIBILITY To become a district attorney, legal education, a membership in any state bar council and state licensure as an attorney is required. 10+2 or its equivalent and any degree from a recognized university are the minimum qualifications required for joining 5 year LLB course and 3 year LLB course respectively. Selection to the L.L.B courses are made on the basis of an entrance test (CLAT -Common Law Admission Test), which is conducted every year and consists of questions from the topics such as Legal Aptitude, Logical Reasoning, English including Comprehension, General Knowledge/Current Affairs, and Elementary Mathematics. After obtaining a law degree students are required to enroll as an advocate in the bar council. Choosing electives or specializations in criminal law is beneficial for aspiring District Attorneys to gain hands-on experience. Assistant District Attorney : Law Graduates having 2 years experience at the any state bar council, can apply for the post of Assistant District Attorney. The selection shall be made on the basis of departmental written and viva examination conducted by the respective State Public Service Commission. Selected assistant district attorney's will be deputed under seniors for training and learning the court procedures. Deputy District Attorney : The post of Deputy District Attorneys are filled by promotion from Assistant District attorney's with 5 years of work experience and also by direct recruitment from lawyers having 7 years experience at the bar. District Attorney : A candidate can apply for the position as a district attorney if he/she • is a citizen of India • have practice as an Advocate in High Court or District Court for a period of not less than ten years • is not less than 30 years and not more than 40 years of age on the date of selection. (The maximum age limit of the candidates belonging to the Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes and Backward Classes shall be such as may be specifically fixed by the Government from time to time.) Besides these qualifications, the recruitment of District Attorneys are made either directly or by promotion, deputation or transfer. In direct recruitment, selection shall be made on the basis of departmental examination amended from time to time, viva voce test and interview by the Public Service Commission of the respective state or by other recruiting authority. The candidates should appear for the exam only in the state where they seeks to practice. By Promotion - Deputy District Attorneys with minimum 3 years (may vary according to state) of regular service are considered to be promoted as District attorneys. District attorneys recruited by direct appointment shall remain on probation for a period of two years and those recruited otherwise shall remain for a period of one year. If the work or conduct of any District attorney during the period of probation or on completion of the period of probation is, not satisfactory, in the opinion of Government, Government may dispense with his services. District attorneys with a minimum 3 years of work experience can be promoted to the post of Public Prosecutor, who plays a major role in prosecuting any criminal cases in High Courts. Skills Needed Persuasion skills & active learning, writing and listening skills, Critical Thinking, Problem Solving, Decision-making, Social Perceptiveness, Coordination, Time management are the important qualities required for District Attorneys. Since they manage the office of the prosecutor, district attorneys should possess excellent administrative as well as prosecutorial skills. They should monitor the performance of individuals or organizations to make improvements or take corrective action. Pay scale of District Attorneys Salary of district attorneys varies greatly depending on years of experience and location. As district attorneys are government employees, they are entitled to receive pay scales as prescribed by the government from time to time.

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