If you watch the TV show Law and Order, you'll get a sense of the criminal
prosecutor's role. Criminal prosecutors, or prosecuting attorneys as they
are sometimes called, deal with people charged with criminal offenses. District
attorneys also perform a similar role.
Their job is to prove charges against suspects in order to get them convicted.
Generally, they prepare cases, write reports, interview witnesses and present
their findings at the trial.
In the U.S., some prosecutors are elected officials. Deputy prosecuting
attorneys are employees.
In order to better understand the work of the criminal prosecutor, here's
a crash course in criminal law. First, you need to understand what a crime
is. By definition, this is an act that is seen as having been committed against
the public, not just an individual.
Crimes are risks to public peace because of their serious nature. They
are different from civil violations, which strictly affect the individual.
When crimes such as murder or theft are committed, the government or "community"
takes over and sends the suspects to court. In civil cases, however, it is
up to the individual to sue.
In criminal cases, the police conduct investigations and arrange for the
suspect's appearance in court. Prosecutors generally take over at the point
when the suspect is formally charged.
Prosecuting attorneys are involved in the decision to prosecute. They have
to closely look at the evidence gathered by the police to make that determination.
This is important because their job is to prove the guilt of the accused beyond
a reasonable doubt.
Technically, federal criminal prosecutors are representatives of the U.S.
attorney general. When they prosecute, they actually do so in the name of
the attorney general.
In fact, in some cases, they need the permission of the attorney general
before they can proceed. District attorneys (DAs) are independent of the attorney
Negotiations are an important part of the job of these attorneys. You've
probably heard of the term plea bargaining. Prosecuting attorneys negotiate
with lawyers for the accused, sometimes to get the suspect to plead guilty
in exchange for leniency.
But the primary aim of the prosecutor is to get suspected criminals convicted
and sentenced to jail for their crimes. They will ask for a sentence that
matches the severity of the crime. When a prosecuting attorney's case is rejected
by the court, they may decide to appeal to a higher court.
As a prosecuting attorney, you will work mainly in an office environment
and in the court setting. Professionals in this area could work at the federal
or even county level.
Research and interviewing play significant roles in this job. Special mobility
needs should not stop you from aspiring to this career. You will need good
communication skills, though.