The United States Attorney’s Office (USAO) is a subagency of the Department of Justice charged with representing the federal government in court. The U.S. Attorney General directs the USAO. Each federal district has their own office led by a United States Attorney (USA), whom the President appoints and the Senate confirms. Assistant United States Attorneys (AUSA) working under the local USA conduct the majority of the USAO’s litigation.
Title 28, Section 547 of the U.S. Code gives the USAO three responsibilities: (1) prosecute federal crimes; (2) represent the United States in civil actions; and (3) collect debts owed to the federal government which are administratively uncollectible. In practice, the majority of the USAO’s work is prosecuting federal crimes, which mainly consists of drug-trafficking, sex-trafficking, child pornography, violations of federal firearm laws, and white-collar crime. The USA and AUSAs appear frequently before federal district courts and federal courts of appeal. They also often work closely with Department of Justice investigative bodies, such as the FBI and the ATF, to develop cases.
[Last updated in December of 2021 by the Wex Definitions Team]