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What is the Role of a Prosecutor?

ac33Prosecutors are attorneys who work for the government on a local, state or federal level. They represent the interests of public safety and work with law enforcement agencies to bring accused criminals to justice.

ac34Charging Suspects

Once a suspect is arrested, a prosecutor must look at the evidence and decide whether or not to file charges of a crime against the person. Once he makes that determination, he files formal paperwork to charge the suspect with a specific crime or crimes.

It’s the job of the prosecutor to determine which specific charges to file. For instance, if someone has died, the prosecutor looks at the evidence and decides whether to file charges for manslaughter, second degree murder or first degree murder. There are specific evidence requirements for each charge and the penalties differ greatly, so it’s important to choose the correct charge for the crime.

Research and Preparation

ac35After he files charges, the prosecutor continues to research the case. He is responsible for convincing a jury or judge that a suspect is guilty, and must do so using evidence and testimony.

Prosecutors interview witnesses, law enforcement officers and experts, review police files and video or photos and look at evidence collected from the crime scene. They also study past cases and review applicable statutes to ensure that they proceed in accordance with the law.

Plea Bargains

In many cases, a prosecutor will present a plea bargain to a suspect and his attorney. There are many reasons for a plea bargain. The prosecutor may not feel confident that a jury will vote to convict, so he may opt for a plea bargain, which ensures that the criminal faces some punishment rather than none. Or, if there are extenuating circumstances, such as a first-time offender with a minor, non-violent charge or a large number of current cases, a prosecutor may offer the suspect a plea bargain in order to focus on cases with more serious charges.

ac36Working in Court

In the United States, a person may only be convicted of a crime if the prosecutor can prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. When a prosecutor takes a case to court, he must convince a jury that the suspect is guilty. He does this by questioning witnesses for the prosecution and cross-examining the defendant’s witnesses. He presents evidence to the jury, including photos, videos, audio recordings and physical evidence. He may also have experts testify so that the jury can understand some of the evidence. For instance, in the case of a shooting, a prosecutor may ask an expert to testify about how he determined that a bullet came from a particular gun.

After Conviction

Once a jury has convicted a criminal, the prosecutor presents a sentencing recommendation to the judge. He may also present the victim(s) or friends and family members of the victim(s) to speak to the judge regarding the impact of the crime.

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