A District Attorney (DA) is the prosecuting officer of a criminal case (i.e., the official who represents the government in the prosecution of criminal offenses).
Communicating with a prosecuting attorney is an important and nearly always necessary part of mounting an effective defense. A district attorney may be able to reduce or even drop charges in certain circumstances. Communicating important details about your case may impact their decision whether to prosecute a crime or offer a favorable plea agreement. However, you should also be aware that the prosecutor is not your friend. Their job is to successfully prosecute crimes and, as such, they should be approached with caution. A defense attorney can often communicate with a prosecutor with less risk and better results.
A prosecutor may refuse to speak with you altogether, since some prosecutors and jurisdictions attempt to avoid exchanges between district attorneys and non-attorneys because of the potential legal issues that can arise from these exchanges.
Furthermore, even when a prosecutor is willing to discuss a case with the defendant, there are reasons why you may want to avoid direct communication. Communicating with a prosecutor may result in unintentional admissions, or you may reveal information that the prosecution is unaware of. Either of these circumstances can damage your case irreparably.
You are also likely to be unfamiliar with the prosecutor and the court. A prosecutor or prosecutor's office often have attitudes about different kinds of crimes or circumstances that influence negotiations such as the court's caseload or a judge's reputation that will be difficult for you to take into account, while a local attorney will be aware of these considerations and take advantage of them when they ask for a deal.
Finally, a thorough case assessment is wise before deciding to negotiate a plea since there may be grounds to have the case against you dismissed. The rules of evidence and proof are very complicated and, depending on the circumstances of your particular case, there may be a procedural error or a lack of evidence that could result in charges being dropped without having to communicate with a prosecutor at all.
Below are links to some DAs by county. To suggest a resource for this page, please e-mail us.
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Before approaching the district attorney it may be helpful to discuss your case with competent local counsel. In addition to reducing risk in communicating with the district attorney, a local lawyer can also let you know about the kinds of plea agreements typically available and what aspects of your case might provide the best advantages or pose the greatest risks. Contact a local attorney for a free case review to learn more about how they can help communicate with the prosecutor on your behalf.