The District Attorney (DA) is a constitutionally elected county official. The District Attorney is responsible for the prosecution of criminal violations of state law and county ordinances occurring within a county under California Government Code Section 26500. This includes investigation and apprehension, as well as prosecution in court. The District Attorney serves as legal advisor to the Grand Jury and, through its family support division, enforces parental financial obligations. The Board of Supervisors exercises budgetary control but not operational control over elected District Attorneys.
Although there are variations in every county, a typical District Attorney’s Office includes:
Municipal Court Operations — Prosecutes all misdemeanors and presents preliminary felony hearings in Municipal Courts.
Superior Court Operations — Presents all felony cases in Superior Court, including legal motions, writs, and appeals, extraditions, and Grand Jury matters.
Family Support Operations — Provides civil and criminal prosecution of family support violations, welfare fraud, and child abduction. Family support policies and procedures are largely regulated by the state and federal governments, and the program’s expenses can be almost always fully reimbursed to counties by those entities through direct payments and incentives (i.e., counties receive financial incentives for aggressively enforcing child support).
Investigation — Provides initial investigation and assistance in trial preparation through the investigation of criminal acts.
Administrative Services — Provides budget, purchasing, space planning, personnel services, payroll, clerical support, and data services functions to the DA.
In all but a few counties, the civil (non-prosecutorial) functions are handled by the county counsel.