Benjamin R. David, District Attorney
District Attorney Ben David received his B.A. degree from the University of Florida and his J.D. degree from Wake Forest University School of Law. He was employed for three years in the trademark litigation section of the Intellectual Property group at Petree Stockton, now Kilpatrick Townsend & Stockton. He became the elected district attorney in 2004, five years after joining the Sixth District, and is currently in his fifth term.
Ben is a member of the Wilmington Downtown Rotary and a founding member of the Blue Ribbon Commission on the Prevention of Youth Violence in Wilmington. As District Attorney, he served on the Chief Justice’s Commission on Professionalism, the Governor’s Gang Task Force, and is a founding member of Law Enforcement Leaders to Reduce Crime and Incarceration. Ben is a past president of the NC Conference of District Attorneys, and has twice served as a delegate for the American Council of Young Political Leaders. In 2017 he received his certification as a handler for POTTER, a facility dog used in the courthouse to assist victims of crime.
Ben is the author of the course textbook "Crime and Community in the Cape Fear: A Prosecutor's Guide to a Healthier Hometown" (Cognella, October 2020) and the Law Review article "Community-Based Prosecution in North Carolina: An Inside-Out Approach to Public Service at the Courthouse, on the Street, and in the Classroom" (Volume 47, 2012). Ben is an adjunct professor at UNC Wilmington, where he teaches Crime and Community in the Cape Fear, as well as at UNCW's Osher Lifelong Learning Institute for seniors. He serves as an Elder of the First Presbyterian Church in Wilmington, where he attends with his wife, Stephanie, and their children, Maddie, Sophie, and Fitz.
The District Attorney's office is the largest law firm in the Sixth District. We have 21 Assistant District Attorneys and 24 non-lawyers, made up of victim witness assistants, investigators and court liaisons for law enforcement agencies, for a total of 45 dedicated public servants who represent the 280,000 people living in these two counties. All of them serve at the will of the elected District Attorney, which means they can be hired or fired without cause. The experience among this team is unbelievable: among the lawyers alone, for example, we have well over 200 combined years of experience prosecuting crime. To learn about the office structure and to contact individuals, see the Staff Directory.
We have two primary responsibilities in the District Attorney’s Office: first, to advise local law enforcement, and second, to prosecute every criminal matter in the territorial jurisdictions of both New Hanover and Pender Counties. There are more than 1,000 sworn law officers in over 20 different state and federal law enforcement agencies with whom we work every day. We employ a police/prosecutor team approach and proactively work with officers during all phases of a case. When cases come to trial, we set the calendar and have the burden of proof in all cases from simple traffic offenses to first degree murder. There are more than 50,000 traffic offenses, 20,000 misdemeanors, and 5,000 felonies calendared each year in the Sixth District. We keep the courts running five days a week.
Setting Priorities and Setting the Tone
If everything is a priority then nothing is. Our priority has been, and will continue to be, the prosecution of violent crimes and career criminals. We will always be defined by the cases we try in front of juries; however, winning murder trials not only gives justice to victims in those individual cases, it sets the tone for the whole District. When you consistently win the big cases in front of juries, then the drug dealers, thieves and other violent offenders line up to plead guilty to their charges. This saves valuable resources and court time. The truth is, around the state, 98% of all cases result in a plea--a non-jury disposition in front of a judge. We are no different in this District and with the case volume we have, it is the only practical way to keep the docket moving.