Crown attorneys are agents of either the Attorney General for Canada or the attorneys general for the provinces and territories, who respectively are the chief legal officers for the federal, provincial and territorial governments. Crown attorneys carry out most of the functions and responsibilities of their attorneys general, such as ensuring that the administration of public affairs is in accordance with law and conducting litigation for and against their governments.
Among the more important responsibilities of crown attorneys are the preparation and conduct of criminal prosecutions. Provincial crown attorneys are responsible for most of the prosecutions under the Criminal Code, the principal exception being those conducted in the Northwest Territories and the Yukon Territory, which are the responsibility of federal crown attorneys. Responsibility for criminal prosecutions under federal statutes other than the Criminal Code, including the Food and Drugs Act and Narcotic Control Act, also lies with federal crown attorneys. Crown attorneys are sometimes colloquially referred to as the Crown.