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What is a District Attorney?

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Georgia’s District Attorneys Offices regularly appear in the news. Recently, the Fulton County District Attorney featured prominently in the news about the Atlanta school cheating scandal, in which he charged 35 school officials, including Superintendent Hall for crimes related to overseeing a corrupt system, encouraging cheating and silencing people who attempted to speak out against them.

The function of the District Attorney
The District Attorney (“DA”) is the chief prosecuting officer in the State of Georgia. A District Attorney is elected every four years for each of the 49 judicial districts. The DA oversees the work of the Assistant District Attorneys working in his office who prosecute most cases.

The kind of cases prosecuted by the District Attorney’s office
The DA’s office represents the State in criminal cases and appeal procedures in the Georgia Superior Court. The prosecution of delinquency cases in the juvenile court system also falls within its ambit. The Solicitor-General prosecutes criminal misdemeanor cases in trial and appeal procedures in Georgia’s State courts in 61 of the 159 counties in Georgia.

The steps taken by the DA’s office before charging you with a crime
Once law enforcement officials suspect you of a crime and think they have enough evidence to charge you, they bring their case to the District Attorney’s office. An Assistant District Attorney examines the evidence before you are charged. If this prosecutor finds the evidence sufficiently convincing, he or she determines with which crimes to charge you and compiles an accusation. You may be arrested during this first stage.

After the DA’s office charges you with a crime
Unless you are indicted by a Georgia grand jury, the DA’s office charges you with a crime by accusation. After you are charged, an arraignment hearing may be set. At the arraignment hearing, you are informed of the charges against you, the judge requests you to enter a plea and will set a time schedule for your case. Depending on the crime with which you are charged and certain other factors, a judge may set bail. After your arraignment, your attorney may try to negotiate a plea bargain and preliminary motions and hearings may be held to resolve certain legal issues before the trial can take place.

Your criminal trial
During the trial, both sides are heard, the Assistant District Attorney and your lawyer may make opening statements, examine and cross-examine witnesses, file motions and make closing arguments. Finally,  the jury may come out with a verdict finding the defendant guilty or not guilty, or state that they were unable to agree. In a non-jury trial, the judge makes this decision.

Any criminal process is complicated and the steps in your criminal process may differ from the general procedure described above. Only an experienced Athens criminal defense attorney has the skills to protect your rights and get you the best possible outcome in your case.

Michael S. Brown and Kim T. Stephens have almost four decades of combined experience in criminal defense law. By drawing on their experience and skills, they work to ensure you get the best possible result in your criminal case.

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