Generally, defense attorneys and prosecutors have many things in common. For instance, they have gone through similar educational setups and work in the same court systems. However, while you’re now aware that prosecutors and a team of reputable criminal defense attorneys work together, they are usually at the opposite ends in a courtroom. As such, you’re likely going to need to know more to have a clear understanding of defense attorneys and prosecutors. Let’s dive in:
While Working Together, What Are the Similarities and Differences Between Prosecutors and Defense Attorneys?
First, let’s find out about these legal professionals’ education, clients, and job duties. When it comes to legal education, you should understand that defense attorneys and prosecutors must attain a law degree before practicing in their specific fields. Unlike what most people think that criminal professionals study only criminal-based law, they usually cover everything about law from misdemeanors to felonies.
While a Law degree covers the basics, to be a prosecutor or a defense attorney, you need to take The Juris Doctor degree, which takes another three years before the bar exam and certification. However, while criminal attorneys have clients, prosecutors do not because they work for the government and represent the public.
Prosecutors are government employees, and their work is to review arrest records and determine when to press charges and drop cases. During a case on trial, prosecutors’ job is to prove beyond doubt that the defendant is guilty. They may also sometimes take the responsibility of recommending sentences. Still, it’s the work of judges and the jury to make final decisions.
Additionally, Prosecutors are eligible to negotiate sentencing terms with the defense attorneys. A good example is when they strive to help clients get a shorter jail sentence for pleading guilty without trial. For defense attorneys, they are primarily working to represent the accused. They may also sometimes work for governments and provide legal counsel acting as public defenders. Defense attorneys can work for governments as public defenders to help the accused, especially when they can’t afford lawyers. They can also work in private sectors where their job is to represent individuals or companies.
Job and Duty
As we have mentioned, a qualified criminal defense attorney represents the accused. They strive to ensure their clients’ rights are rightfully upheld, seek shreds of evidence, and talk to witnesses. They also have to speak and find more information from the police, prosecutors, and anyone they deem vital and a person of interest in the case.
When it comes to goals, a prosecutor’s goal is to present the public interests by proving those charged individuals are guilty and recommending the type of sentencing. On the other hand, criminal lawyers aim to help their clients win their cases and prevent violations of their rights. Criminal defense attorneys and prosecutors earn comparable wages depending on the workload and whether they work in the private or public sector. However, those working with the private sector may earn more than those in the public sector.
Since prosecutors work for the state, they may try to reduce the length of cases and save the government money by offering plea deals. They work with criminal attorneys and their clients to settle a guilty plea with the promise of a lighter sentence. This strategy helps reduce the court backload, freeing it up for more serious cases. In such instances, prosecutors are eligible to offer petitions so that the victim is convicted whether they are guilty or not. Their work is to decide if taking the plea is the best option. They do this by taking into account facts and determining the jury’s likelihood to convict their clients.
In some cases, the plea is not in the clients’ best interests, but the lawyers may find it fit and convince their clients to accept. During case proceedings, defense attorneys must present their clients’ mitigating issues such as mental illness or temporary insanity, affecting verdict and sentencing. Lawyers must also collect evidence such as interviews and prepare witnesses to testify. They also research all the factors and aspects of the case to establish quality and reliable cross-examination.
While defense attorneys and prosecutors work together, you can see that their duties, responsibilities, and employers are different. Still, while prosecutors represent the interests of public safety and strive to prove an individual or a group committed crimes and deserve punishment, defense attorneys represent their clients’ best interests. Defense attorneys also stand firm with them from arraignment to sentencing, striving to avoid incriminating themselves and ensuring clients’ constitutional rights are not violated.