Commonwealth's Attorney, called a "District Attorney" in
other states, represents the people of Virginia in the prosecution
of criminal cases. The citizenry elects the Commonwealth’s
Attorney every four years. Program encompasses a variety
of legal areas including the prosecution of cases in criminal
court, traffic court, juvenile and domestic relations court,
and circuit court, as well as handling appeals to the supreme
court of Virginia.
All Commonwealth's Attorneys prosecute the
most serious crimes, known as felonies, including murder,
rape, and robbery. In
many jurisdictions, they also prosecute misdemeanors and violations
of local ordinances, including traffic offenses. In addition,
they perform other duties and responsibilities as specified
in the Virginia Constitution and Virginia Code. In Virginia,
Commonwealth's Attorneys may be employed full-time or part-time,
depending on the size of the jurisdiction served. Most full-time
Commonwealth's Attorneys have a support staff of appointed
assistants to help handle the prosecution of cases within his
or her jurisdiction.
The Commonwealth's Attorney represents other constitutional
offices. He/She may be called on to be involved in any case
at the pleasure of the local judiciary and must carry out any
other duties prescribed by law.
The Commonwealth Attorney's Office also coordinates the extradition
of criminals who have fled the state, prosecutes drug asset
forfeitures, and tries individuals for failure to pay child
support or failure to obey other court orders.
The Commonwealth Attorney's Office oversees the Victim/Witness
Unit, which offers advice about rehabilitative services and
other community resources available for victims' protection.
The Victim-Witness Assistance Program provides the following
- In cases where an arrest is made, make contact with
victims prior to the court date and answer any questions
they may have about the court process.
- Provide outreach to victims of crime in cases where
an arrest is not made (robbery, burglary, felonious assault,
abduction, homicide, grand larceny auto, stalking,
car jacking, etc.)
- Ensure that victims have a voice throughout the criminal
- Make referrals to social service agencies that provide
emergency financial, medical or psychological assistance
to crime victims.
- Provide information about and assist victims with filing
for the Criminal Injuries Compensation Fund.
- Arrange pre-trial meetings between the prosecutor and
victim and provide a tour of the courtroom
- Provide the victim and family members with court accompaniment
the day of the hearing
- Provide victims with victim impact statements and assist
them with filling out the statements, when requested
- Send victims a letter telling them of the sentence and
providing them with parole input or dept. of corrections
- Assist victims with getting property returned which
is being held as evidence
- Assist victims with collection of overdue restitution
- Refer victims to area support groups
- Respond to the scene of a robbery at a business to provide
crisis intervention and incident debriefing to the
Beyond the preparation and trial of criminals
cases, the Commonwealth Attorney's Office advises law enforcement
agencies, consults with and advises the local Police Department/Sheriff’s
Office regarding policies and procedures, answers citizen
inquiries concerning the criminal justice system and provides
assistance for on-going criminal investigations of the City/County
Police and the Virginia State Police.
Law enforcement officers bring in the majority
of the cases the Commonwealth’s Attorney handles. The Commonwealth’s
Attorney office also prosecutes cases initiated by a citizen's