Description of Office
The main duty of both the county attorney and the district attorney is to represent the state in criminal cases. Both work with law enforcement officers in the investigation and preparation of cases to be heard before the criminal courts.
Typically, the county attorney represents the state in misdemeanor criminal cases and the district attorney represents the state in felony cases. These public prosecutors determine whether prosecution in any given case should be instituted and, if instituted, pushed to a successful conclusion.
Other duties include prosecution of juvenile offenders, representation of victims of violence in protective orders and representing the Texas Department of Protective & Regulatory services in removing children from abusive households
The county attorney typically provides legal advice to the commissioners court and other elected officials. When requested in writing, the county attorney provides written legal counsel to county officials about their duties of office. Absent a specific statutory mandate, however, it is not the duty of the county attorney to represent the county in civil cases.
Some counties do not have both a county attorney and a district attorney. These counties have either a criminal district attorney or a combination county and district attorney. In these counties, one individual performs the functions of both the county attorney and the district attorney.
As with all elected county officials, the county attorney has ultimate authority over the operations of the office, including the authority to hire and fire personnel and direct their daily activities. The county attorney also has authority to determine how to use all other resources allocated to the office during the budget process.
For more complete information about the duties of a district attorney, county attorney and other county officials, click here.