Diversity in the DA's Office
- What do prosecutors do?
- What is the difference between prosecutors and public defenders?
- What is the difference between criminal and civil laws?
- How much education do I have to receive to become an attorney?
- Will I become an attorney after graduating from law school?
- What are the employment requirements for the San Diego District Attorney's Office?
- Can I work at the San Diego District Attorney's Office while still in law school?
- Can I work at the San Diego District Attorney's Office if I have a criminal record?
1. What do prosecutors do? [TOP]
Prosecutors are licensed attorneys who enforce the criminal laws of the United States federal government, states or counties. The prosecution has the burden of proving the defendant guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in any criminal action.
2. What is the difference between prosecutors and public defenders? [TOP]
Prosecutors represent the interests of the government in criminal cases. Public defenders are also licensed attorneys who are typically government employees or private defense attorneys. They are appointed by the courts to represent criminal defendants who do not have the money to pay for legal representation.
3. What is the difference between criminal and civil laws? [TOP]
Criminal laws outline penalties for conduct that is prohibited by law. Murder, robbery, and shoplifting are examples of criminal laws. The punishment for criminal violations can range from incarceration in state penitentiaries for felonies to county jail or fines for misdemeanors. Civil statutes address grievances that arise from disputes between parties to a lawsuit. The party who files the lawsuit is known as the "plaintiff." The opposing party who is being sued is known as the "defendant." Civil suits may involve contract disputes, divorce proceedings or landlord/tenant eviction actions.
4. How much education is required to become an attorney? [TOP]
You will need a college degree and a law degree. Traditionally, individuals obtain undergraduate college degrees from four-year institutions before enrolling in law school. Most law schools are three-year programs.
5. Will I become an attorney after graduating from law school? [TOP]
After graduation from law school you must take and pass the California Bar Exam to become a licensed attorney in California.
6. What are the employment requirements for the San Diego District Attorney's Office? [TOP]
You must be a licensed attorney in the State of California in good standing with the State Bar. Graduates immediately out of law school will need a minimum Grade Point Average of 2.75. Additional consideration will be given to applicants who have prior experience as a certified legal intern or graduate legal clerk with the San Diego District Attorney's Office. Also see DDA job requirements.
7. Can I work at the San Diego District Attorney's Office while still in law school? [TOP]
Yes. There are volunteer internship positions available for eligible second and third year law students.
8. Can I work at the San Diego District Attorney's Office if I have a criminal record? [TOP]
Every application is evaluated individually. However, disclosing such information and explaining it up front is the best course of action. All employment offers are subject to an extensive background check. Although you will likely not be given an offer or pass the background check with a juvenile or adult felony conviction on your record, there may be misdemeanors that could be explained. For example, civil disobedience charges are common for some activists in high school and college and they can be viewed in context with the activity and the person.