A District Attorney (DA) or County Attorney is the prosecuting officer of a criminal case (i.e., the official who represents the government in the prosecution of criminal offenses). In other words, if you've been charged with a crime, the DA is the attorney who will be trying to convict you of the charges at your trial.
Most states have a prosecutor's office for each county and in Arizona, the County Attorney responsible for prosecuting cases obtains his or her position through an election. This means that the local prosecutor's office can be influenced by the interests of the voters in their district and may use their discretion to focus prosecutions on certain crimes over others.
The Pros and Cons of Talking to the DA
Sometimes this can benefit criminal defendants, especially when trying to obtain a plea bargain. However, there are also times where this can hurt defendants, especially if prosecutors are trying to "make an example" out of them based on the charges they're facing. Often defendants will learn about the prosecutors in their county for the first time during their own case, so they may not know the policies and preferences of the prosecutor's office.
Communicating with prosecutors can be tricky. After all, they're busy building a case against you so there's always a risk that anything you say or admit might be used against you later at trial. However, it can benefit your case to learn more about the prosecution's strategy and their willingness to resolve your case before trial. Before you do so, however, you'll want to make sure that you have a good understanding of your case as well as how to protect your rights in the process.
Working with an Attorney
A criminal defense attorney can assist you in communicating with the prosecution. For one, local criminal defense attorneys have a better understanding of the prosecutors in their county and some may even have a good working relationship, which can benefit their clients during any pre-trial matters. A defense attorney can also help you to understand the evidence in your case and prepare your defense strategy based on that evidence. Most importantly, unlike a prosecutor, a criminal defense attorney has the primary responsibility to ensure that your rights are protected in the criminal justice system. If you're thinking about initiating discussions with the prosecutor's office, your first step should be to consult with an expert defense attorney.
Below are links to Arizona prosecutors by county to assist in finding out how to contact the County Attorney near you. To suggest a resource for this page, please e-mail us.
Free Arizona Criminal Case Evaluation
As you can see, if you're a criminal defendant there are definitely benefits to communicating with the prosecution. However, there are also risks and the best way to protect yourself is to ensure that you have an experienced defense attorney at your side. Reach out to one today for a free case evaluation.