The Roles of the Prosecutor The criminal justice system consists of judges, Grand Jury, probation officers, defense attorneys, victim advocates, and prosecutors, all of whom have their own specific role and responsibilities towards a more efficient and progressive criminal system. All of them have important roles, but this paper mainly focuses on the roles of the prosecutor from central booking to appeals. Aside from seeking justice, the prosecutor adheres to the roles that his profession calls for. The Prosecutor
The prosecutor, also known as the district attorney, is an elected official representing the government in criminal trials involving serious felonies (Criminal Justice Intervention, n. d. ; Worrall & Nugent-Borakove, 2008, p. 3). In some cases, and when asked for by the county where they serve, prosecutors are in charge of misdemeanor crime and also prosecute felony matters. From central booking to sentencing and appeals, the prosecutor represents the government. Some of his duties include informing the victim about the criminal charges, his rights, court dates, plea agreement, changes in schedules, and the schedule of sentencing.
In addition, the prosecutor’s duty involves analyzing the investigative reports in order to find out if there is adequate evidence to file criminal complaint against a potential suspect. He is also in charge of determining if a complaint is to be denied when there is lack of evidence. Furthermore, the prosecutor is tasked to witness trial preparation and management (Criminal Justice Intervention, n. d. ). In some instances, the duties of the prosecutor include reducing the charges against the suspect and seeking indictment.
He can also drop some cases or petition for adjudication (Bureau of Justice Statistics, 2004). Beyond these duties, the prosecutor has roles to fulfill. His role in seeking justice is emphasized. This can be seen from the ethical canons for prosecutors, which differ greatly from the ethical canons of defense lawyers. The defense lawyer’s task is to represent his client within the bounds of the law. He is allowed to keep “damning information” about his client from the prosecutor, the grand jury, or the judge.
In addition, the defense attorney can argue that his client is innocence when in fact the client is guilty. Generally, his role is to get his client off from punishment or to get little punishment if possible. On the other hand, the prosecutor’s role is to seek justice. His primary concern is to accomplish justice completely. The more concise role of the prosecutor is to seek justice and not just convict (“The Role of the Prosecutor,” n. d. ). Generally, prosecutors are guided by ethical rules which also limit the possibility of abusing the power that comes with the profession.
The Lawyers’ Manual on Professional Conduct contains these ethical rules, which indicate the important role of the prosecutor as a “minister of justice. ” His role of seeking justice can be challenged with the need to win a conviction at a trial. Thus, it is important for the prosecutor to search for facts that would clear the innocent and convict the guilty person. This dual role is a difficult task to carry out due to the political pressures of the job. The Lawyers’ Manual on Professional Conduct (Burnett, 2002) states that:
The prosecutor’s job isn’t just to win, but to win fairly, staying well within the rules. As a “minister of justice” the prosecutor is required by the ethical standards “to see that the defendant is accorded procedural justice and that guilt is decided on the basis of sufficient evidence. (p. 41) The prosecutor is obliged to give to the trial attorney any information that could help the defendant. This fairness in part of the prosecutor is the basis for the constitutional decision. Furthermore, the prosecutor has to follow the standards for the behavior of prosecutors. Standard 17.
17, as supported by the National District Attorneys Association, indicates that closing arguments at trials should be fair, accurate, rational, and relied on evidence. This showed that the prosecutor must “secure fair competition in the adversary system. ” In addition to this, he should preserve public confidence in his office. This contributes to the overall integrity of the justice system (Burnett, 2002, p. 42). Promoting public confidence in the justice system is an essential role because the justice system relies largely on the voluntary compliance of the citizenry.
If the justice system is fair, impartial and accurate, public confidence to the system will increase. Furthermore, if the prosecutor prevented any unfairness and inaccuracy in the procedure, the public will be confident in the justice system (Joy & McMunigal, 2005). This public confidence will be eroded if the prosecutor is solely interested in winning even if the defendant is innocent. Furthermore, the public will lose trust in the criminal justice system if the prosecutor is highly adversarial and is unconcerned about the fairness and accuracy of punishments and convictions (Joy & McMunigal, 2005).
For these reasons, prosecutors are said to have no equal in the world because of the reality of their profession: they have to deal with separating courts from politics. They do not just represent the state in criminal litigation but they also have to answer to the local electorate (Worrall & Nugent-Borakove, 2008, p. 4). In general, the prosecutor needs to function within the bounds of the professional guidelines attached to his profession. This should be the reminder of his important roles in seeking justice while at the same time limiting the abuse of his power.