The Miami-Dade Office of the State Attorney requires each new Assistant to commit to remaining with the office for at least three (3) years, calculated from the date of their being sworn in as an Assistant State Attorney (ASA). A Legal Trainee will be sworn as an ASA when he/she passes the Florida Bar exam, his/her character and fitness background is completed and he/she is admitted to the Florida Bar.
Each new Attorney is initially placed into a four to six week training program supervised by our full-time Training Officer. The training program consists primarily of lectures and workshops. Upon entering the program, each Legal Trainee will be given a comprehensive training manual which contains the subject material and case-law that new attorneys must master. Toward the end of the training program each Legal Trainee will be assigned to work with an experienced prosecutor.
After completing the training program, the new employees are assigned to the County Court Division. In County Court, we prosecute misdemeanor offenses. The assignment to County Court generally lasts approximately 12 months. While in the County Court Division the employee has an opportunity to be lead counsel in jury and non-jury trials and to conduct plea negotiations. Once the assignment to County Court has been completed, each employee generally transfers to Juvenile Division. The Juvenile Division assignment is approximately four to six months.
In Juvenile Court, we prosecute both felonies and misdemeanors. These cases are all bench trials, but they allow the Assistant State Attorney to learn the elements of the felony crimes and to improve his/her trial and advocacy skills.
At both the County Court and Juvenile level, selected attorneys will be given the opportunity to extend their stay in these divisions. The office uses the term “committed attorneys” to identify these Assistants. Committed Attorneys receive a salary increase to encourage stability and excellence in both Juvenile and County Court.
Upon completion of the assignments in the County Court and Juvenile Court Divisions, an ASA is assigned to the Circuit Court Division. It is in the Circuit Court Division where the ASA will prosecute adult felony cases. With rare exception, the trials are all by jury.
There are 21 general units in the Circuit Court Criminal Division. Each general unit practices before one (1) circuit court judge on a daily basis. Within each general unit there is a Division Chief attorney (the supervising attorney), and an “A”, “B” and “C” prosecutor (the “pit” assistants). Each new incoming felony ASA enters into a unit as a “C” level prosecutor. With experience, the ASA is promoted to a “B” level and then “A” level prosecutor. With each promotion, the ASA is assigned more difficult and serious cases.
Typical of any large prosecutor’s office, Miami-Dade County offers many areas of specialization once an attorney gains experience as a litigator. The Career Criminal, Domestic Violence, Economic Crimes, Sexual Battery Units provide opportunities for the A level attorneys to develop an expertise in these areas.
The 21 Division Chiefs are selected by the Administration to supervise the Felony Courts and they handle most serious offenses not assigned to the specialized units.
The Senior Trial Counsels and the Organized Crime-Racketeering/Public Corruption Attorneys are experienced, career prosecutors. Entry into these divisions is limited and selection is based on merit. Senior Trial Counsels handle capital crimes and Organized Crime-Racketeering/Public Corruption handles complex investigations.