Most states are separated into judicial districts, each covering one or more counties and headed by a District Attorney (or "D.A."). The D.A.'s office prosecutes state crimes within its judicial district, sometimes referring cases to a grand jury in order to secure an indictment. But Washington, D.C., considering its small geographical size and unique administrative structure (it's not a state but has its own laws), doesn't have D.A.s. Instead, the United States Attorney's Office for the District of Columbia is in charge of prosecuting crimes within its jurisdiction.
So while "District of Columbia District Attorneys" don't actually exist, crimes are still prosecuted in a manner similar to states. And while some states also don't have separate D.A. offices (such as Delaware and Rhode Island), Washington, D.C. is unique in that the U.S. Attorney's Office handles both federal and local crimes within the District's boundaries.
The following sections provide more information about how crimes are prosecuted in Washington, D.C. and the unique structure of the District's U.S. Attorney's Office.
United States Attorney's Office for the District of Columbia: Basics
Aside from its role enforcing federal laws in the nation's capital, the U.S. Attorney's Office for the District of Columbia prosecutes local felonies and some misdemeanors similar in scope and procedure to most states' District Attorneys. On the federal side, the office investigates and prosecutes federal crimes such as child pornography, gang activity, terrorism, and white collar crimes such as financial fraud. The District of Columbia U.S. Attorney's Office is the largest in the nation.
Local criminal matters (those involving violations of D.C. criminal statutes) are handled in the Superior Court Division of the U.S. Attorney's Office. The Superior Court Division itself is split into three divisions:
Contacting the United States Attorney's Office for the District of Columbia
There may be instances where contacting the prosecutor is a good idea, such as when you're negotiating a plea bargain, but always do so with the counsel of your attorney (in many cases they can communicate on your behalf). Besides, you don't want to reveal your defense strategy to the prosecution or have anything said used against you at trial.
There are seven regional Community Prosecution offices throughout the District of Columbia (view the map to determine which local office to contact):
Attorney General of the District of Columbia: Overview
The District of Columbia also has an Attorney General (or "A.G."), but unlike state A.G.s this office doesn't prosecute crimes. Instead, the A.G.'s office enforces laws within the District, provides legal advice and counsel for D.C. government agencies, and files lawsuits on behalf of D.C. residents (consumer protection laws, for instance).
Get Peace of Mind With a District of Columbia Criminal Defense Attorney
If you've been charged with a crime in the District of Columbia, you'll want to make sure you understand the charges filed against you and your rights as a defendant. The U.S. Attorney's Office will do everything in its power to secure a conviction, so you're going to want an experienced legal team in your corner. Get started today by reaching out to a skilled Washington, D.C. criminal defense lawyer.