State's Attorney
In the United States, the State's Attorney (or State Attorney) is, most commonly, an elected official who represents the State (prosecution) in criminal prosecutions and is often the chief law enforcement officer of their respective county
County (United States)
In the United States, a county is a geographic subdivision of a state , usually assigned some governmental authority. The term "county" is used in 48 of the 50 states; Louisiana is divided into parishes and Alaska into boroughs. Parishes and boroughs are called "county-equivalents" by the U.S...

, circuit. The position of State's Attorney is analogous to that of the District Attorney
District attorney
In many jurisdictions in the United States, a District Attorney is an elected or appointed government official who represents the government in the prosecution of criminal offenses. The district attorney is the highest officeholder in the jurisdiction's legal department and supervises a staff of...

, Commonwealth's Attorney
Commonwealth's Attorney
Commonwealth's Attorney is the title given to the elected prosecutor of felony crimes in Kentucky and Virginia. Other states refer to similar prosecutors as District Attorney or State's Attorney....

, County Attorney
County attorney
A county attorney in many areas of the United States is the chief legal officer for a county or local judicial district. It is usually an elected position...

, County Prosecutor, Prosecuting Attorney (Prosecutor
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...

), or Solicitor (South Carolina
South Carolina
South Carolina is a state in the Deep South of the United States that borders Georgia to the south, North Carolina to the north, and the Atlantic Ocean to the east. Originally part of the Province of Carolina, the Province of South Carolina was one of the 13 colonies that declared independence...


Other countries also use or used the term State Attorney, like the Boer republics
Boer Republics
The Boer Republics were independent self-governed republics created by the northeastern frontier branch of the Dutch-speaking inhabitants of the north eastern Cape Province and their descendants in mainly the northern and eastern parts of what is now the country of...

 of the Orange Free State
Orange Free State
The Orange Free State was an independent Boer republic in southern Africa during the second half of the 19th century, and later a British colony and a province of the Union of South Africa. It is the historical precursor to the present-day Free State province...

 (1854–1902) and the South African Republic
South African Republic
The South African Republic , often informally known as the Transvaal Republic, was an independent Boer-ruled country in Southern Africa during the second half of the 19th century. Not to be confused with the present-day Republic of South Africa, it occupied the area later known as the South African...

 (1852–1902) in South Africa. In these cases the position corresponded to that of the Attorney General
Attorney General
In most common law jurisdictions, the attorney general, or attorney-general, is the main legal advisor to the government, and in some jurisdictions he or she may also have executive responsibility for law enforcement or responsibility for public prosecutions.The term is used to refer to any person...

 in the British judicial system. It is used within the Attorney-General's Department
Attorney-General's Department (Sri Lanka)
The Attorney-General's Department is a non-ministerial government department in Sri Lanka that supports the Attorney General and his/her deputy the Solicitor General. It handles public prosecution and advises the government on legal matters...

 of Sri Lanka
Sri Lanka
Sri Lanka, officially the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka is a country off the southern coast of the Indian subcontinent. Known until 1972 as Ceylon , Sri Lanka is an island surrounded by the Indian Ocean, the Gulf of Mannar and the Palk Strait, and lies in the vicinity of India and the...


Duties of State's Attorney

The principal duties of the State's Attorneys are usually mandated by law and include representing the State in all criminal trials for crimes which occurred in the State's Attorneys geographical jurisdiction. The geographical jurisdiction of a State's Attorney may be delineated by the boundaries of a county, judicial circuit, or judicial district.

Their duties generally include charging crimes through informations
Information (formal criminal charge)
Information is a formal criminal charge made without a grand jury indictment by a prosecutor in a document called an information.The term is used in Canada and various other common law jurisdictions, including a number of U.S...

 and/or grand jury indictments. After levying criminal charges, the State's Attorney will then prosecute those charged with a crime. This includes conducting discovery
Discovery (law)
In, discovery is the pre-trial phase in a lawsuit in which each party, through the law of civil procedure, can obtain evidence from the opposing party by means of discovery devices including requests for answers to interrogatories, requests for production of documents, requests for...

, plea bargaining
Plea bargain
A plea bargain is an agreement in a criminal case whereby the prosecutor offers the defendant the opportunity to plead guilty, usually to a lesser charge or to the original criminal charge with a recommendation of a lighter than the maximum sentence.A plea bargain allows criminal defendants to...

, and trial.

In some jurisdictions, the State's Attorney may act as chief counsel for city police, county police, state police and all state law enforcement agencies within the State's Attorney's jurisdiction.

Assistant or Deputy State's Attorneys

Assistant State's Attorney (ASA) (or, Deputy State's Attorneys) is the title applied to all attorneys working in a State's Attorney's office, with the exception of the State's Attorney. An ASA is hired or appointed to the position by the elected State's Attorney and derives the power to act on behalf of the State in criminal prosecutions through the State's Attorney. The duties of an ASA include those of the State's Attorney—representing the State (prosecution) in criminal proceedings. The caseload of an ASA is generally regarded as being high in volume, with an ASA having anywhere from a few dozen to several hundred active cases at any given time.

Generally, the salary of an ASA will be much lower than the elected State's Attorney. The non-monetary benefits of the job induce many to work as an ASA; these include the opportunity to amass trial experience, perform a public service, and network professionally.

Upon leaving employment as an ASA, persons seek employment as a judge, in private law firms, or as U.S. Attorneys
United States Attorney
United States Attorneys represent the United States federal government in United States district court and United States court of appeals. There are 93 U.S. Attorneys stationed throughout the United States, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Guam, and the Northern Mariana Islands...



The State's Attorney usually divides their services into several departments that handle different areas of criminal law. Each department is staffed by several duly appointed and sworn ASAs. The departments of a large State's Attorney's Office may include but are not limited to: felony
A felony is a serious crime in the common law countries. The term originates from English common law where felonies were originally crimes which involved the confiscation of a convicted person's land and goods; other crimes were called misdemeanors...

, misdemeanor
A misdemeanor is a "lesser" criminal act in many common law legal systems. Misdemeanors are generally punished much less severely than felonies, but theoretically more so than administrative infractions and regulatory offences...

, domestic violence
Domestic violence
Domestic violence, also known as domestic abuse, spousal abuse, battering, family violence, and intimate partner violence , is broadly defined as a pattern of abusive behaviors by one or both partners in an intimate relationship such as marriage, dating, family, or cohabitation...

, traffic, juvenile, charging (or case filing), drug prosecution, forfeitures, civil affairs such as eminent domain, child advocacy, child support, victim assistance, appeals, career criminal prosecution, homicide, investigations, organized crime
Organized crime
Organized crime or criminal organizations are transnational, national, or local groupings of highly centralized enterprises run by criminals for the purpose of engaging in illegal activity, most commonly for monetary profit. Some criminal organizations, such as terrorist organizations, are...

/gang, and administration.


Depending on state law, appeals are moved to appellate court
Appellate court
An appellate court, commonly called an appeals court or court of appeals or appeal court , is any court of law that is empowered to hear an appeal of a trial court or other lower tribunal...

s (also called appeals courts, courts of appeals, superior courts, or supreme courts in some states). During the appeals process State's Attorneys, in many cases, hands all relative prosecutorial materials to a State Appellate Prosecutor who in turn will represent the state in appellate courts with the advice and consent of the State's Attorney. The State's Attorney in small counties is responsible for grand jury indictments, motions, proceedings, and trying cases by jury or bench until verdict. In larger counties, the State's Attorney acts as an administrator and delegates most of the trial work to Assistant State's Attorney or Assistant District Attorneys.

States that have State's Attorneys or State Attorneys

  • Connecticut
    Connecticut is a state in the New England region of the northeastern United States. It is bordered by Rhode Island to the east, Massachusetts to the north, and the state of New York to the west and the south .Connecticut is named for the Connecticut River, the major U.S. river that approximately...

  • Florida
    Florida is a state in the southeastern United States, located on the nation's Atlantic and Gulf coasts. It is bordered to the west by the Gulf of Mexico, to the north by Alabama and Georgia and to the east by the Atlantic Ocean. With a population of 18,801,310 as measured by the 2010 census, it...

  • Illinois
    Illinois is the fifth-most populous state of the United States of America, and is often noted for being a microcosm of the entire country. With Chicago in the northeast, small industrial cities and great agricultural productivity in central and northern Illinois, and natural resources like coal,...

  • Maryland
    Maryland is a U.S. state located in the Mid Atlantic region of the United States, bordering Virginia, West Virginia, and the District of Columbia to its south and west; Pennsylvania to its north; and Delaware to its east...

  • North Dakota
    North Dakota
    North Dakota is a state located in the Midwestern region of the United States of America, along the Canadian border. The state is bordered by Canada to the north, Minnesota to the east, South Dakota to the south and Montana to the west. North Dakota is the 19th-largest state by area in the U.S....

  • South Dakota
    South Dakota
    South Dakota is a state located in the Midwestern region of the United States. It is named after the Lakota and Dakota Sioux American Indian tribes. Once a part of Dakota Territory, South Dakota became a state on November 2, 1889. The state has an area of and an estimated population of just over...

  • Vermont
    Vermont is a state in the New England region of the northeastern United States of America. The state ranks 43rd in land area, , and 45th in total area. Its population according to the 2010 census, 630,337, is the second smallest in the country, larger only than Wyoming. It is the only New England...

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