About The District Attorney

Stephen A. Zappala, Jr.

Stephen A. Zappala, Jr.

District Attorney of Allegheny County

Stephen A. Zappala, Jr. has served as the District Attorney of Allegheny County for over 25 years. He grew up in Allegheny County on the streets of Regent Sq. in Squirrel Hill, where his passion for upholding the law was instilled in him at a young age by his father, Supreme Court Chief Justice, Stephen Zappala, Sr. He attended and graduated Central Catholic High School in 1975.

Mr. Zappala began his law career in 1984 after graduating from Duquesne University School of Law. He worked in private practice for 17 years until elected District Attorney in 1998.

During his time as District Attorney, Mr. Zappala has pioneered and led reform to the criminal justice system which has been used across Pennsylvania and the United States.

He created special victim units protecting the rights of the most vulnerable individuals in our community such as victims of domestic violence, child abuse, and senior abuse and fraud. 

Mr. Zappala has been the leading advocate in our justice system for providing first-time offenders with a second chance. He understands that struggling with mental illness or drug and alcohol addiction is not a crime. Over a decade ago, he implemented diversionary court programs Drug Court, DUI Court, Mental Health Court and Veterans Court to keep people out of jail and assist them in getting their lives back on track, as well as expunging their criminal records. 

He introduced technology in countywide police departments including parole car dash cameras, body-worn cameras, and license plate readers to provide irrefutable evidence of a given incident. In 2016, Mr. Zappala launched the first of what would become a countywide camera system with over 3,000 cameras that are used by local and state police, and federal agencies for criminal investigations. His Precious Metals System has become the standard to help law enforcement track sales of stolen items and reunite victims of theft with their belongings. 

Partnering with organizations like the Allegheny County Chiefs of Police Association, Mr. Zappala oversaw the creation and adoption of over 20 policies including use of force, vehicle pursuit and traffic stops. Training programs also emerged from this partnership to ensure that the public is safer with better-conditioned, equipped and disciplined professional law enforcement officers.   

Mr. Zappala and his wife of 35 years, Mary, have dedicated their personal lives to bettering the community by serving on boards and contributing to over 40 non-profit organizations and are counted among the founders of Cribs for Kids, the Center for Victims and Animal Friends.

They have proudly raised their four sons in Allegheny County.

The Role of the District Attorney’s Office

The prosecution of crimes in Pennsylvania is delegated to local government officials. Pennsylvania is comprised of 67 counties. Each county has a District Attorney and a Court of Common Pleas. Jurisdiction over crimes committed in a county falls to the Court of Common Pleas. In Allegheny County, as in all counties in Pennsylvania, there is also a minor judiciary. Magisterial District Judges preside in the courtrooms of the minor judiciary, throughout Allegheny County. The first steps of any criminal prosecution take place before the minor judiciary.