Established in 1975, the Prosecuting Attorneys’ Council of Georgia provides a number of important services to the hundreds of elected and appointed prosecutors across the State of Georgia. The council consists of nine members, six district attorneys and three state court solicitors who establish policies that guide the day-to-day work of the Council staff.
Among the duties performed by the Council staff are:
- Training, professional development and continuing legal education
- Legal research assistance and preparation of prosecution manuals.
- Professional responsibility guidance and legislation review and analysis
- Trial and appellate practice support
- Payroll, procurement, budgeting and asset management
- Technology procurement, information management and communications
The District Attorney
The office of District Attorney in Georgia dates to the division of the colonial office of Attorney General into an Attorney General and a Solicitor-General in 1789. It is the only local prosecutor’s position in the United States whose origins can be traced directly to those English common law offices. As additional Judicial Circuits were created, additional Solicitors General positions were created in the new circuits. In 1968, the title Solicitor-General was changed to District Attorney and the office became a full-time position whose incumbent could not engage in the private practice of law.
The District Attorney is the chief prosecuting officer for the State of Georgia within each of the State’s 49 judicial circuits. Judicial circuits consist of one to eight counties and are generally named for a geographical feature within the Circuit.
Each District Attorney is an elected constitutional officer, who is part of the judicial branch of Georgia state government. The District Attorney represents the State of Georgia in the trial and appeal of felony criminal cases in the Superior Court for the judicial circuit and delinquency cases in the juvenile courts. The District Attorney is also the legal advisor to the grand jury and performs other duties prescribed by law.
Each District Attorney’s office has a full-time staff of assistant district attorneys, investigators, victim assistance and administrative personnel who assist the District Attorney in carrying out the duties of the office.
In 67 of the 159 counties in Georgia, misdemeanor cases (cases where the maximum punishment cannot exceed 12 months in jail) are prosecuted by the Solicitor-General. The Solicitor-General is an elected county officer who represents the State of Georgia in the trial and appeal of misdemeanor criminal cases in the State Courts and performs other duties as required by law.
Prior to 1996, this office was known as the “Solicitor,” a title that was used from 1865. The term “solicitor” is sometimes used locally to refer to this office. In 24 counties, the Solicitor-General is a full-time official with a staff of assistants, investigators and administrative personnel; in the remaining 43 counties, they are part-time officials who may maintain a private law practice.
In those areas without a State Court, and in Chatham, Dougherty, Miller and Rockdale counties, misdemeanor cases are prosecuted by the District Attorney who also is responsible for prosecuting felony cases. Although full-time Solicitors-General handle only criminal cases, some part-time Solicitors-General may also serve as the attorney for the county.