Among other personnel in the criminal justice system, the prosecutor is unique because he has to perform different functions. However, the prosecutor is, in large part, unknown. Usually, he is considered “reviled, unloved, unknown. ” He may be portrayed on television, in fiction, in the movies, and in the press as a person who is not so perfect. Despite this, the prosecutor and the experts under his command serve as the cornerstone of the American justice system and law enforcement. However, the roles that he should fulfill and how he does them are generally unknown to the majority of the public (Worrall & Nugent-Borakove, 2008, pp.
4-5). Central Booking The prosecutor’s role during a criminal trial commences on central booking. The central booking oversees the process after a suspect is arrested. The prosecutor will consult with the police officer who arrested the suspect. He then decides if there is adequate evidence. If there is, then he will prepare the charge or charges against the suspect. If the prosecutor determines that there is lack or inadequate evidence to charge the suspect, the latter will be released from jail (Kaye, 2006). Arraignment Arraignment is the process wherein the defendant will be tried in court (Attorney Search Network, 2009).
During this process, the prosecutor and the suspect’s lawyer discuss if there is a possibility for settling the suspect’s case without going through a trial. They can negotiate a plea bargain, wherein the suspect may accept and plead guilty or not accept and plead not guilty (Kaye, 2006). During the formulation of the plea bargain, the prosecutor’s roles include incorporating the suspect’s concerns into consideration. The prosecutor also takes the law, the circumstances of the case, and the policies of his office (Tucson City Prosecutor’s Office, 2004).
Another minor role of the prosecutor is to ask the judge during the arraignment to keep the suspect in bail or order bail. After then the prosecutor can discuss with the suspect’s lawyer regarding the prosecutor’s arguments (Kaye, 2006). In addition, the prosecutor has the discretion to determine whether cases should be filed in Juvenile court of in adult court, as evidenced from a particular case regarding a 14-year-old girl suffering from mental illness who killed her mother. The prosecutor during the trail stated that the other prosecutors and police investigators decided to try the defendant in adult court (Littlefield & Davis, 2008).
Plea Bargaining This stage is an important part of the criminal justice process. During plea bargaining, the suspect pleads guilty to the charge (charges) in exchange for a sentence agreed upon, dismissal or reduction of charges, or sentence recommendation to the judge. In this process, the decisions of the prosecutor on the length of the sentence to offer, the types of cases to be included in the plea bargain, and the time deemed best to use resources to gather evidence depend largely on the expected response of the defendant.
In turn, the decision of the defendant regarding the acceptance or rejection of the plea offer largely depends on the expected behavior of the prosecutor (Baker & Mezzetti, 2000, p. 1). In addition, the prosecutor is tasked to decide whether to try the defendant depending on two things. First is through the prosecutor’s observation of the defendant with regards to acceptance or rejection of the plea bargain. Second is the evidence gathered (Baker & Mezzetti, 2000, p. 2). After the plea bargain session, the prosecutor’s role is to gather evidence (Baker & Mezzetti, 2000, p.
3). After the Arraignment If the suspect is charged with felony and is in jail, the prosecutor’s role is to present the evidence gathered within 6 days to the grand jury (Kaye, 2006). In line with this, the prosecutor should not withhold evidence which could clear the defense, nor should he admit evidence which is not admissible (Burnett, 2002, p. 42). However, if the prosecutor is not able to present the evidence within the time frame, the suspect will be released from jail (Kaye, 2006). The Grand Jury
The grand jury consists of sixteen to twenty-three people who decide whether there is adequate evidence to put the suspect on trial for the charges. During grand jury proceedings, which are in private, the prosecutor has important roles. If the suspect decided to testify, the prosecutor is tasked to cross-examine the suspect. He will also be the voice when the grand jury wants to question the suspect (Kaye, 2006). In addition to this, the prosecutor assists the grand jury if the members want the suspect to answer questions, submit documents and other evidence.
Along with jurors, the prosecutor must participate in weighing the evidence and deciding whether it is enough to indict the suspect (American Bar Association Family Legal Guide, 2004). Pre-Trial During the pre-trial motions, different kinds of hearings may be held, depending on the motion that the suspect makes to the judge. During the hearing, the prosecutor’s role is to prove that the police officers who arrested the suspect acted legally. If the prosecutor is not able to prove this, the judge will then suppress the evidence.
In addition, the prosecutor is tasked to take the suspect’s case to trail within a given time. For a non-homicide case, the prosecutor must try the case within 6 months from the date the felony complaint was filed in criminal court. If the case is misdemeanor, the prosecutor must try the case within 90 days from the filing of the misdemeanor complaint in the criminal court (Kaye, 2006). Trail The most important part of the prosecutor’s job is the trial. During this process, the evidence of the case is presented to the jury, whose members decide whether the defendant is guilty or not guilty.
The prosecutor’s role is to use witnesses and submit and present evidence to show that the defendant committed the crime or charges. The prosecutor also has a say in deciding who jurors must be for the case. With this regard, the prosecutor must not discriminate against any group of people who are chosen to be a part of the jury (U. S. Department of Justice, n. d. ). Furthermore, it is the prosecutor’s role to educate the members of the grand jury about the case.
If will also be the prosecutor’s role to control the direction and momentum of the investigation, otherwise the jurors might “run away” (American Prosecutors Research Institute, National Center for the Prosecution of Child Abuse, 2003, p. 102). During the trial process, the primary role of the prosecutor as representative of the government or state in court is emphasized. Accordingly, he should execute the law and defend the state and federal constitutions. In general, the prosecutor represents the citizenry and takes into consideration the interest of the public.
In line with this, the prosecutor must be guided to act fairly and impartially. Furthermore, as the prosecutor is the most powerful character in the criminal justice system, his duty includes exercising discretion. A guidepost to this is his responsibility to serve procedural and substantive justice for the suspect. In accordance, his role includes protecting the suspect’s rights while at the same time seeking conviction of the suspect. This means that the prosecutor’s role transcends winning or losing the case. The prosecutor’s role to seek justice is necessary to prevent him from abusing his power (Joy & McMunigal, 2005).