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What does the Prosecuting Attorney's Office do?

Learn more about what the Prosecuting Attorney's Office (PAO) does for King County.

At the King County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office our mission is to “do justice.” Our roughly 600 attorneys and legal service professionals strive to embody that mission every day. Our office has 6 divisions:

  • Juvenile
  • Family Support
  • Civil
  • “Mainstream” Criminal
  • Economic Crimes & Wage Theft
  • Gender-Based Violence & Prevention
  • Plus, our Purpose, Strategy, & Performance team

Justice reform

Our office is innovative in creating and employing justice reform efforts across our 6 divisions. We are changing the way justice is done in King County, and, by our example, across the state and nation. Together, we serve a diverse population of more than 2 million King County residents, a community that includes dense urban areas and rural, unincorporated parts of King County.


The Juvenile Division, previously a unit within the Criminal Division, was launched in 2017. It is now an incubator for criminal justice reform, with a strong emphasis on supporting victims, community justice, restorative justice, diversionary programs, and alternatives to secure detention. In recent years, our office has intentionally invested resources to shrink the court’s response and increase the community’s role in repairing harm, and since 2019, the Juvenile Division has diverted more cases to the community than we filed through the court system. These efforts have contributed to significantly fewer King County youth in secure detention, which decreased from a high of 205 in 2000 to a historic low of 22 in 2021.

Family Support

Leading with an equity and social justice lens, the Family Support Division represents the State (the Department of Social and Health Services) in various family law matters. Family Support Division employees work to establish parentage and child support, modify and enforce existing child support obligations, and connect parties with community resources. Over the years, the Family Support Division has fundamentally shifted the way it does business. We now look at a parent’s life circumstances to take a holistic approach to child support obligations. This includes connecting parents with job training and other social services that help them better meet child support responsibilities and ultimately stay connected to their families—all provided free of charge.


The Civil Division provides comprehensive legal services to King County government, including all County elected and appointed officials, department heads, and managers of numerous county agencies and departments. Serving in its role as an in-house law firm for the County, the Civil Division works closely with its clients to solve a wide range of legal problems by providing legal advice and representing King County and its employees in lawsuits filed in state or federal courts as well as in various administrative forums.

Gender-Based Violence & Prevention

Our Gender-Based Violence & Prevention Division was launched in January 2023 and will continue to be set up throughout the year.

The plan is for this division to include:

  • The Domestic Violence Unit
  • Special Assault Units, with an area focused on children and the other on adults
  • The Sexually Violent Predator Unit
  • Our Hate Crime practice
  • The Domestic Violence Firearm Enforcement Unit
  • Project Safety
  • The Child Advocacy Center
  • Our Commercial Sexual Exploitation (Trafficking) practice
  • A new Gun Violence Prevention Unit

Gender-based violence disproportionately impacts women of color, indigenous women, transgender individuals, and LGBTQIA+ people. This new division aims to improve our office’s response to gender-based violence by approaching these cases in a trauma-informed, victim-centered response.

Economic Crimes & Wage Theft

The Economic Crimes & Wage Theft Division was also announced in January 2023. The purpose of this division is to provide a unified focus and approach to economic crimes and to bring greater accountability for organized retail theft and wage theft cases by working with law enforcement to develop the evidence necessary to increase the prosecution of these serious crimes. Like the Gender-Based Violence & Prevention Division, this Division will also continue to be set up throughout 2023. The Division will house a variety of practice areas including Economic Crimes, Organized Retail Theft, Mortgage Fraud, Complex Fraud, Insurance Fraud, Identity Theft, Elder Abuse, and Wage Theft (a new practice and emphasis, as of 2023).


The “mainstream” Criminal Division represents the state and the county in criminal matters in King County District and Superior courts, the state and federal courts of appeal, and the Washington and U.S. Supreme Courts. Adult felony cases that come before the Criminal Division are extremely diverse in nature—ranging from repeat property offenders, felony traffic crimes, and murders. The Division also houses our District Count Unit which handles misdemeanors that occur in unincorporated parts of King County and on the County’s highways. For eligible felonies and misdemeanors, the division offers robust alternatives to criminal prosecution to help reduce recidivism and prevent future victimization. Each unit is specialized, and Deputy Prosecuting Attorneys have the opportunity to develop deep subject matter expertise.

Purpose, Strategy, & Performance

Lastly, our Purpose, Strategy and Performance team is comprised of our Elected Prosecutor, Chief of Staff, and the Directors of Budget & Finance, IT, Human Resources, Communications, Victim Services, Data & Analytics and their respective teams. This team provides specialized services to help our  divisions unite around our shared purpose, meet our strategic business needs, and measure our performance as we strive to continuously better serve our community.

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