The Commonwealth's Attorney represents the people of Virginia in prosecuting criminal cases. The position is similar to that of the "District Attorney" in many other states. The Commonwealth's Attorney, elected by the people to a four year term, typically appoints one or more assistants to handle cases under his or her supervision.
Commonwealth 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.
Commonwealth Attorneys have numerous duties and responsibilities as set forth in the Virginia Constitution and Virginia Code. They have duties and powers imposed upon them by general law, including the duty of prosecuting all felonies and, in his discretion, Class 1, 2 and 3 misdemeanors.