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In many jurisdictions in the United States, a District Attorney (D.A.) is the appointed public 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 assistant or deputy district attorneys. Similar functions are carried out at the local level in other jurisdictions by officers named the Commonwealth's Attorney, State's Attorney, County Attorney, or County Prosecutor. Depending on the system in place in the particular state or county, district attorneys may be appointed by the chief executive of the region or elected by the people.

Because different levels of government in the U.S. operate independently of one another, there are many differences between persons who perform this function at the federal, state, and county levels. The proper title for an appointed federal prosecutor at the local level (as opposed to an appointed U.S.marker Department of Justicemarker prosecutor based in Washington, D.C.marker) is United States Attorney. Such officers are appointed by the President of the United States, serve under the Attorney General, and prosecute cases in the district courts of the federal government. United States Attorneys, in turn, hire prosecutors to handle the daily affairs of the office; they are known as Assistant United States Attorneys, or AUSAs.

Most states also have a district attorney who oversees prosecutions throughout the state. A district attorney of a state is occasionally informally referred to as the state's attorney, but is officially known as the Attorney-General of that state. Care should be taken to not confuse the two.

In the United Kingdommarker positions equivalent to a District Attorney are the Crown Prosecutor in Englandmarker and Walesmarker and Northern Irelandmarker, and the Procurator Fiscal in Scotlandmarker. Many Commonwealth countries use Director of Public Prosecutions or Crown Prosecutor, while Canada uses the titles of Crown Attorney or Crown Counsel.

An Executive Assistant District Attorney (EADA), sometimes called the Chief Assistant District Attorney (CADA), or the First Assistant District Attorney is a title given to senior management in a prosecutor's office. The people who hold these titles are generally considered the second-in-command for the office, and usually report directly to the head prosecutor. The exact roles and job assignments for each title vary with each individual office, but generally include management of the daily activities and supervision of specialized divisions within the office.

In some offices the positions is similar to that of the Executive Officer (XO) on a naval vessel, with the elected District Attorney as the Commanding Officer (CO). He or she reports directly to the District Attorney and acts as the district attorney in his or her absence. Often, the EADA may oversee or prosecute some of the larger crimes within the jurisdiction. In some offices the Executive Assistant District Attorney has the responsibility of hiring lawyers and other staff members in the District Attorney's office. Often, the EADA is in charge of giving press releases and overseeing the work of the office staff. In jurisdictions where the elected prosecutor is the Commonwealth's Attorney a similar position is assigned the title of First Assistant Commonwealth's Attorney.

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