What is the Role of a Prosecutor in the Criminal Justice System?

Many who are charged with a crime don’t understand the role of a prosecutor. As part of the justice system, the prosecutor has an important function. The prosecutor works with law enforcement and witnesses in the prosecution of criminal cases prior to and during the court process.  The lead prosecutor of a county is called a County Attorney, the lead prosecutor of a State Judicial District is called a District Attorney and the lead prosecutor of a Federal District is called a U.S. Attorney.    

What Do Prosecuting Attorneys Do? 

A prosecutor is “an administrator of justice, a zealous advocate, and an officer of the court.” As such they have a variety of duties. 

Seek Justice 

First and foremost, the prosecutor should not just seek to convict, but to seek the truth and work within the law. This requires integrity and objectivity. A prosecutor should understand and respect the constitutional and legal rights provided to defendants and suspects.  

A prosecutor should work within the law and not seek prosecution if there isn’t sufficient evidence. Prosecutors can also consider alternatives to prosecution and conviction for defendants, if appropriate. An example of this could be a diversion program. 

Abide by Rules of Professional Conduct  

Each jurisdiction will have its own rules about professional conduct, but as a rule, prosecutors should avoid the appearance of impropriety and seek guidance if the rules about conduct aren’t clear. The appearance of impropriety is when a prosecutor acts in a way that negatively affects the ability of the prosecutor to be fair, impartial, objective or lacks integrity. Additionally, prosecutors should not offer evidence or make statements they don’t reasonably believe is true.  

Representation in Court 

The client of the prosecutor is the public. The prosecutor will represent the public in court by initiating the criminal case by filing charges.  Specially prosecutors file motions, make objections, and represent the government at trial.

Need an Attorney? 

Jeremy D. Koop is a former prosecutor. He understands the complexity of the judicial system and can help clients navigate the process as a zealous advocate for them. Contact The Koop Law Firm for a free consultation. 

The information provided in this article does not constitute legal advice; it is for general informational purposes only.

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