New York County District Attorney facts for kids

Kids Encyclopedia Facts
District Attorney of New York County
District Attorney Vance at a June 2011 press conference
Cy Vance

since January 1, 2010

The New York County District Attorney is the elected district attorney for New York County (Manhattan), New York. The office is responsible for the prosecution of violations of New York state laws. (Federal law violations in Manhattan are prosecuted by the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York). The current district attorney is Cyrus Vance, Jr.


In the legislative act of February 12, 1796, New York State was divided into seven districts, each with an Assistant Attorney General, except New York County where Attorney General Josiah Ogden Hoffman prosecuted personally until 1801.

From 1801 to 1813, New York County was part of the First District, which included the counties of New York, Kings, Queens, Richmond, and Suffolk. At that time, Queens included current-day Nassau County and Westchester included The Bronx. In 1813, Westchester County was apportioned to a new district with Rockland and Putnam counties, and in 1815, New York County became the Twelfth District - the only one at the time that was a single county. In 1818, each county in the state became its own district.

From 1874 to 1895, the New York County included the West Bronx, and from 1895 to 1913 it included all of what is now Bronx County, governing the same area as does the present Borough of the Bronx. On January 1, 1914, the Bronx became a separate county with its own district attorney.

Until 1822, the district attorney was appointed by the Council of Appointment, and held the office "during the Council's pleasure", meaning that there was no defined term of office. Under the provisions of the New York State Constitution of 1821, the D.A. was appointed to a three-year term by the County Court, and under the provisions of the Constitution of 1846, the office became elective by popular ballot. The term was three years, beginning on January 1 and ending on December 31. In case of a vacancy, an acting district attorney was appointed by the Court of General Sessions until the Governor of New York filled the vacancy with an interim appointment until an election was held for the remainder of the term.

The Consolidation Charter of 1896 extended the term of the incumbent John R. Fellows, who had been elected in 1893 to a three-year term (1894–1896) by a year. Since the City election of 1897, the D.A.'s term has coincided with the Mayor's term and has been four years long, In case of a vacancy, the governor can still make an interim appointment until a special election is held for the remainder of the term.

In popular culture

The long-running television series Law & Order and its spin-offs depict the prosecution of criminal suspects by lawyers of the New York County District Attorney's office. The district attorneys depicted in the franchise are Adam Schiff, Nora Lewin, Arthur Branch and Jack McCoy.

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