Hawaii District Attorneys

States vary in what they call district attorneys. In Hawaii, district attorneys are prosecuting attorneys. Hawaii's prosecuting attorneys are pivotal in the Aloha State's criminal justice system. Their primary duty is to represent the state in criminal cases. 

The prosecuting attorneys present evidence and arguments during a trial to prove a defendant is guilty. But even before matters go to trial, they also review the evidence to determine whether there's enough to file charges.

Each state has its own prosecutors who are responsible for a certain area. States divide the areas by city, county, or district. In Hawaii, the division is by county.

This article provides general information about the Hawaii judiciary.

Plea Bargains

Hawaii's prosecuting attorneys also have the authority to negotiate plea deals. This can resolve a case before the time and expense of a criminal trial. A plea bargain often results in a defendant pleading guilty to a lesser charge. Plea negotiations can be complex. The talks must balance the defendant's civil rights and the need for criminal justice with the realities of an overburdened court system.

If you're interested in a plea bargain, having an attorney negotiate the deal for you is better. An attorney can present your case in the best light. The attorney can also use the negotiations to determine the strength of the prosecutor's case against you.

Other Responsibilities

Prosecuting attorneys have a multifaceted job. They represent the state in legal matters and serve the interests of justice, fairness, and the community.

Many prosecuting attorney offices in Hawaii provide victim advocacy services to crime victims. They inform crime victims about the case's progress and support them through the court process.

Prosecuting attorneys work with police and other law enforcement agencies. This collaboration ensures that investigations are legally sound and that the evidence is allowed in court.

Prosecuting attorneys often engage in community outreach. They educate the public on crime prevention and the role of the prosecuting attorney's office. This can involve public speaking engagements in places like Hilo and collaborating with local organizations to provide legal resources. Some prosecuting attorney offices also issue press releases to update the community about their activities and cases.

Public Defender

Legal help is available to low-income Hawaii residents who need legal representation in criminal law matters.

Section 802-B of the Hawai'i Revised Statutes founded Hawaii's Public Defender's Office. Any low-income person facing criminal charges or the potential deprivation of freedom must get legal representation.

The public defender's office bases eligibility for services on income. Public defenders are attorneys. Like any other lawyer, the state issues them a license to practice law. They have to be members in good standing of the state bar association.

You must complete an application. If you qualify, you will get a referral to a public defender.

Legal help is also available for those facing civil law matters. The Legal Aid Society of Hawaii is a non-profit, public-interest law firm with offices throughout the state. The organization provides legal help in issues such as:

  • Landlord-tenant
  • Housing and eviction
  • Family law
  • Public benefits
  • Workers' rights
  • Consumer, including debt collection and repossession
  • Immigration

Legal Aid does not help with criminal or personal injury matters.

The Domestic Violence Action Center is another resource. It provides legal representation in family court and client advocacy for domestic abuse survivors. It also includes general and legal information for victims and has a hotline for immediate help. It charges on a sliding fee scale based on income.

There are self-help centers. Volunteer Legal Services Hawai'i provides legal assistance to the low and moderate-income community of Hawaiʻi. It matches volunteer attorneys with people who are representing themselves. Over 200 attorneys take part. They help with:

  • Bankruptcy
  • District court
  • Family court matters such as divorce, paternity, custody, and adoption
  • Estate planning
  • Veterans' legal assistance

Another self-help center is the Hawaii Court Self-Help Centers and Access to Justice Rooms. It's a joint effort of several organizations to help those representing themselves understand their rights and the court process. This is a free program provided with the help of volunteer attorneys.

Hawaii Attorney General's Office

A state's attorney general can be described as the head district attorney, meaning that all of a state's district attorneys fall under the authority of the state's attorney general. The state's governor appoints the Hawaii Attorney General and serves as the chief law enforcement officer as well as the chief legal officer of Hawaii. The Department of the Attorney General has a variety of duties, including:

  • Representing the state in criminal and civil cases
  • Initiating civil and criminal actions to enforce the state's laws
  • Preparing legal opinions for the heads of state departments, the legislature, and the governor
  • Advising state officials on legal matters
  • Representing state employees and officials when sued for actions they've taken as part of their job

The Attorney General also provides certain public services. Among these services, the Hawaii Attorney General is responsible for administering the state's child support enforcement program and helping law enforcement with crime prevention.

Directory of Hawaii District Attorneys

As mentioned above, Hawaii's prosecuting attorneys are divided by county. Click the links below to learn more about each county's prosecuting attorney.

Hawaii County Prosecuting Attorney
Honolulu City and County (formerly Oahu County) Prosecuting Attorney
Kauai County Prosecuting Attorney
Maui County (includes Wailuku) Prosecuting Attorney

Note: Although we strive to provide the most current contact and website information for the D.A. offices in this state, this information is subject to change. If you have found contact or website information that is not current, please contact us.

Have Questions About Hawaii's D.A.s? Talk to an Attorney

While a prosecuting attorney may seem nice when discussing your case, getting legal advice from a defense attorney before accepting a plea deal is always a good idea. And, if your case goes to trial, it's even more important to have good legal assistance. Discuss your case with a local criminal defense attorney if someone accuses you of a crime in Hawaii.

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