Prosecutor Vs Attorney: The Key Differences

Prosecutor Vs Attorney: The Key Differences

Prosecutors and attorneys can both operate in the legal sector but have different roles. This article explores the main differences. 

A prosecutor and an attorney are the official names of individuals fully licensed to practice law in a particular jurisdiction. However, while both types of professionals can practice law, the two have key differences.

What Is An Attorney?

The term attorney is derived from the French language and literally means an individual who acts on behalf of another as an agent or deputy. If an individual has legal capacity to act on behalf of another, they are referred to as an attorney-in-fact.

An attorney-in-fact is not required to attend law school and does not require any form of legal training. For instance, you might be the attorney-in-fact of your spouse if you are required to make medical decisions for them.

However, many states across the US refer to individuals licensed to practice law as attorneys. As such, an attorney could also refer to a defense lawyer or a criminal defense lawyer.

A lawyer is considered to be anyone who has attended law school and has the legal ability to practice law. This can also include anyone who is trained and can provide legal advice. A lawyer becomes an attorney-at-law when they have passed the bar exam and are legally licensed to practice law in a specific state.

Prosecutor Vs Attorney
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What Is A Prosecutor?

A prosecutor is a legal officer who will either represent the federal or state government during a legal proceeding where there are criminal charges. Similar to a criminal defense lawyer, a prosecutor has full legal training, but they will not represent clients. Instead, their client is the government.

In some cases, the chief prosecutor may also be referred to as the “district attorney.”

In federal cases, there may also be a “special prosecutor” appointed. Generally, this is an attorney sourced from outside the government to investigate the government for misconduct.

What’s The Difference Between A Prosecutor And An Attorney
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What’s The Difference Between A Prosecutor And An Attorney?

The main difference between the two is that a defense attorney and a prosecutor or prosecuting attorney are on opposite sides during a trial. The Prosecutors will be responsible for prosecuting the crime that the accused are being tried for. In contrast, a criminal defense lawyer or attorney will do the opposite. They will work to provide enough evidence to defend their client who has been accused of criminal charges. Their purpose is to show evidence that the client did not commit the crime or potentially find ways to reduce the punishment.

What Are The Goals of A Prosecutor And Attorney?

The main aim of a prosecutor is to charge the accused with a specific crime or multiple crimes that they have been accused of committing. They must show beyond a reasonable doubt that a client is guilty.

In contrast, the defense attorney needs to defend their clients against criminal charges. The client will always be considered innocent until proven guilty.

What Are The Goals of A Prosecutor And Attorney
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What Is The Job Description Of A Prosecutor?

A prosecutor’s role is to represent the interest of public safety. They work to prove that an individual has committed a crime and deserves punishment. 

The prosecutor may be required to enter a plea before proceeding to trial. They also offer a plea so that the defendant is convicted of a lesser charge. 

During criminal prosecutions, a prosecutor’s office must provide evidence in court. They will also need to interview and prepare witnesses to testify. Many prosecutors spend considerable time preparing their opening and closing statements while also expecting a cross-examination. 

What Is The Job Description Of An Attorney?

From arraignment to sentencing, a criminal defense attorney represents the interests of the client in all legal proceedings. Their purpose is to ensure that the clients’ constitutional rights are not violated and that they avoid incriminating themselves during a criminal case. 

If a please is offered before trial, then defense attorneys will need to decide whether it is worth taking. Usually, prosecutors and defense attorneys will try to gain the upper hand during the plea phase, often before a case reaches court. 

When deciding whether to take a plea, the defense lawyer will need to think about the client’s best interests as well as whether a jury is likely to convict. 

If a client is found guilty during a court proceeding then a defense lawyer may decide to appeal the decision in the interest of justice. The prosecution also has the right to appeal a decision by the court. 

Workload of Attorney and Lawyer
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What Is The Workload?

Finally, both prosecutors and defense attorneys have considerable workloads. This will differ for defense lawyers depending on whether they choose to work for a public defender’s office or for private practice. Defense lawyers will also find that their salary differs depending on which law firm they choose to work for. In contrast, a prosecutor’s salary will often be dependent on what level they work at.

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