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A prosecutor is a legal representative of the prosecution in states with either the
common law In law, common law (also known as judicial precedent or judge-made law, or case law Case law is the collection of past legal decisions written by courts and similar tribunal A tribunal, generally, is any person or institution with authority ...
adversarial system The adversarial system or adversary system is a legal system used in the common law In law, common law (also known as judicial precedent or judge-made law, or case law) is the body of law created by judges and similar quasi-judicial tribunals by v ...
or the
civil law Civil law may refer to: * Civil law (common law) Civil law is a major branch of the law.Glanville Williams. ''Learning the Law''. Eleventh Edition. Stevens. 1982. p. 2. In common law legal systems such as England and Wales and the law of the United ...
inquisitorial system An inquisitorial system is a legal system in which the court A court is any person or institution, often as a government institution, with the authority to Adjudication, adjudicate legal disputes between Party (law), parties and carry out th ...
. The prosecution is the legal party responsible for presenting the case in a
criminal In ordinary language, a crime is an unlawful act punishable by a state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by the U.S. Department of State * The State (newspaper ...
trial In law Law is a system A system is a group of Interaction, interacting or interrelated elements that act according to a set of rules to form a unified whole. A system, surrounded and influenced by its environment, is described by ...
against an individual accused of breaking the law. Typically, the prosecutor represents the state or the government in the case brought against the accused person.


Prosecutor as a legal professional

Prosecutors are typically lawyers who possess a
law degree A law degree is an academic degree conferred for studies in . Such degrees are generally preparation for legal careers. But while their curricula may be reviewed by legal authority, they do not confer a license themselves. A legal license is grante ...

law degree
, and are recognized as legal professionals by the court in which they intend to represent society (that is, they have been
admitted to the barAn admission to practice law is acquired when a lawyer receives a license to practice law. In jurisdictions with two types of lawyer, as with barristers and solicitors, barristers must gain admission to the bar whereas for solicitors there are distin ...
). They become involved in a criminal case once a suspect has been identified and charges need to be filed. They are employed by an office of the government, with safeguards in place to ensure such an office can successfully pursue the prosecution of government officials. Multiple offices exist in a single country, especially in those countries with federal governments where sovereignty has been bifurcated or devolved in some way. Since prosecutors are backed by the power of the state, they are subject to special
professional responsibility Professional responsibility is the area of legal practice that encompasses the duties of attorneys to act in a professional manner, obey the law, avoid conflicts of interest, and put the interests of clients ahead of their own interests. Violat ...
rules in addition to those binding all lawyers. For example, in the
United States The United States of America (U.S.A. or USA), commonly known as the United States (U.S. or US) or America, is a country Continental United States, primarily located in North America. It consists of 50 U.S. state, states, a Washington, D.C., ...

United States
, Rule 3.8 of the
ABA Model Rules of Professional Conduct The American Bar Association's Model Rules of Professional Conduct (MRPC) are a set of rules and commentaries on the Legal ethics, ethical and professional responsibilities of members of the legal profession in the United States. Although the MRPC g ...
requires prosecutors to "make timely disclosure to the defense of all evidence or information that tends to negate the guilt of the accused or mitigates the offense." Not all U.S. states adopt the model rules; however, U.S. Supreme Court cases and other appellate cases have ruled that such disclosure is required. Typical sources of ethical requirements imposed on prosecutors come from appellate court opinions, state or federal court rules, and state or federal statutes (codified laws).


Directors of public prosecutions

In
Australia Australia, officially the Commonwealth of Australia, is a Sovereign state, sovereign country comprising the mainland of the Australia (continent), Australian continent, the island of Tasmania, and numerous List of islands of Australia, sma ...

Australia
,
Canada Canada is a country in the northern part of North America North America is a continent A continent is any of several large landmasses. Generally identified by convention (norm), convention rather than any strict criteria, ...

Canada
,
England and Wales England and Wales () is a legal jurisdiction covering England and Wales, two of the four countries of the United Kingdom, parts of the United Kingdom. England and Wales forms the constitutional successor to the former Kingdom of England and follows ...

England and Wales
,
Kenya ) , national_anthem = "Ee Mungu Nguvu Yetu "Ee Mungu Nguvu Yetu" (, ) is the national anthem of Kenya. History "Ee Mungu Nguvu Yetu"'s lyrics were originally written in Swahili language, Kiswahili, the national language of Kenya ...

Kenya
,
Hong Kong Hong Kong (; , ), officially the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of the People's Republic of China (HKSAR), is a city A city is a large human settlement.Goodall, B. (1987) ''The Penguin Dictionary of Human Geography''. London: Pe ...

Hong Kong
,
Northern Ireland Northern Ireland ( ga, Tuaisceart Éireann ; sco, label=Ulster-ScotsUlster Scots, also known as Scotch-Irish, may refer to: * Ulster Scots people The Ulster Scots (Ulster-Scots The Ulster Scots (Ulster Scots dialects, Ulster- ...

Northern Ireland
,
Republic of Ireland Ireland ( ga, Éire ), also known as the Republic of Ireland ('), is a country A country is a distinct territorial body or political entity A polity is an identifiable political entity—any group of people who have a collective id ...

Republic of Ireland
,
Trinidad and Tobago Trinidad and Tobago (, ), officially the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago, is the southernmost island country in the Caribbean The Caribbean (, ; es, Caribe; french: Caraïbes; ht, Karayib; also gcf, label=Antillean Creole Antillean C ...

Trinidad and Tobago
,
Guyana Guyana ( or ), officially the Cooperative Republic of Guyana, is a country on the northern mainland of South America and the capital city is Georgetown Guyana, Georgetown. Guyana is bordered by the Atlantic Ocean to the north, Brazil to the ...

Guyana
,
Kenya ) , national_anthem = "Ee Mungu Nguvu Yetu "Ee Mungu Nguvu Yetu" (, ) is the national anthem of Kenya. History "Ee Mungu Nguvu Yetu"'s lyrics were originally written in Swahili language, Kiswahili, the national language of Kenya ...

Kenya
, and
South Africa South Africa, officially the Republic of South Africa (RSA), is the southernmost country in Africa. With over 60 million people, it is the world's 23rd-most populous nation and covers an area of . South Africa has three capital citie ...

South Africa
, the head of the prosecuting authority is known as the
director of public prosecutions The Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) is the office or official charged with the prosecution of criminal offences in several criminal jurisdiction Criminal jurisdiction is a term used in constitutional law and public law Public law is ...
(DPP) and is appointed, not elected. A DPP may be subject to varying degrees of control by the
attorney general #REDIRECT Attorney general In most common law In law, common law (also known as judicial precedent or judge-made law, or case law) is the body of law created by judges and similar quasi-judicial tribunals by virtue of being stated in written opinio ...
, a formal written directive which must be published. In Australia, the Offices of the Director of Public Prosecutions institute prosecutions for
indictable offence In many common law In law, common law (also known as judicial precedent or judge-made law, or case law) is the body of law created by judges and similar quasi-judicial tribunals by virtue of being stated in written opinions. ''Black's Law Dicti ...
s on behalf of the Crown. At least in the case of very serious matters, the DPP will be asked by the police, during the course of the investigation, to advise them on sufficiency of evidence, and may well be asked, if he or she thinks it proper, to prepare an application to the relevant court for search, listening device or telecommunications interception warrants. More recent constitutions, such as South Africa's, tend to guarantee the independence and impartiality of the DPP.


Common law jurisdictions


Australia

Prosecutors in Australia come in a few distinct species. Prosecutors of minor criminal cases in lower courts are Police Sergeants with a traineeship in prosecution and advocacy lasting approximately 1 year in duration, although they may hold law degrees. Crown Prosecutors are always lawyers, and typically barristers, and they represent the State or Commonwealth in serious criminal cases in higher courts, County Court and above. Aside from Police prosecutors and Crown prosecutors, government agencies have the authority to appoint non-lawyers to prosecute on their behalf, such as the RSPCA Inspectors.


Canada

In Canada, public prosecutors in most provinces are called Crown Attorney or Crown Counsel. They are generally appointed by the provincial Attorney-General.


New Zealand

In New Zealand, most crimes are prosecuted by a Police Prosecutor, an employee of the
New Zealand Police The New Zealand Police ( mi, Ngā Pirihimana o Aotearoa) is the national police service of New Zealand, responsible for enforcing criminal law, enhancing public safety, and maintaining public order, order. With about 12,000 personnel it is the la ...
. The most serious crimes - about 5% of all crimes - is outsourced to a lawyer working at private law firm known as a
Crown prosecutor Crown prosecutor is the title given in a number of jurisdictions to the state prosecutor A prosecutor is a legal representative of the prosecution in countries with either the common law adversarial system or the Civil law (legal system), civil law ...
.


Scotland

Though
Scots law Scots law () is the legal system The contemporary national legal systems are generally based on one of four basic systems A system is a group of interacting or interrelated elements that act according to a set of rules to form a unified ...
is a mixed system, its civil law jurisdiction indicates its
civil law Civil law may refer to: * Civil law (common law) Civil law is a major branch of the law.Glanville Williams. ''Learning the Law''. Eleventh Edition. Stevens. 1982. p. 2. In common law legal systems such as England and Wales and the law of the United ...
heritage. Here, all prosecutions are carried out by Procurators Fiscal and Advocates Depute on behalf of the
Lord Advocate , body = , insignia = Crest of the Kingdom of Scotland.svg , insigniasize = 110px , image = File:Lord Advocate James Wolffe (26789821493).jpg , incumbent = The Rt Hon. James Wolffe QC , incumbentsince = J ...
, and, in theory, they can direct investigations by the
police The police are a Law enforcement organization, constituted body of Law enforcement officer, persons empowered by a State (polity), state, with the aim to law enforcement, enforce the law, to ensure the safety, health and possessions of citize ...
. In very serious cases, a Procurator Fiscal, Advocate Depute or even the Lord Advocate, may take charge of a police investigation. It is at the discretion of the Procurator Fiscal, Advocate Depute, or Lord Advocate to take a prosecution to court, and to decide on whether or not to prosecute it under solemn procedure or summary procedure. Other remedies are open to a prosecutor in Scotland, including
fiscal fine A fiscal fine (formally a fixed penalty conditional offer) is a form of deferred prosecution agreement in Scotland issued by a procurator fiscal for certain summary offences as an alternative to prosecution. Alternatives to prosecution are called ...
s and non-court based interventions, such as
rehabilitation Rehabilitation or Rehab may refer to: Health * Rehabilitation (neuropsychology), therapy to regain or improve neurocognitive function that has been lost or diminished * Rehabilitation (wildlife), treatment of injured wildlife so they can be returne ...
and
social work Social work is an academic discipline and practice-based profession A Profession is a disciplined group of individuals who adhere to ethical standards and who hold themselves out as, and are accepted by the public as possessing special kno ...

social work
. All prosecutions are handled within the
Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service The Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service is the independent public prosecution service for Scotland Scotland ( sco, Scotland, gd, Alba ) is a Countries of the United Kingdom, country that is part of the United Kingdom. Covering the ...
. Procurators fiscal will usually refer cases involving minors to Children's Hearings, which are not courts of law, but a panel of lay members empowered to act in the interests of the child.


United States

The
United States The United States of America (U.S.A. or USA), commonly known as the United States (U.S. or US) or America, is a country Continental United States, primarily located in North America. It consists of 50 U.S. state, states, a Washington, D.C., ...

United States
is the only country in the world where citizens elect prosecutors. The director of a prosecution office is known by any of several names depending on the jurisdiction, most commonly
district attorney In the United States The United States of America (U.S.A. or USA), commonly known as the United States (U.S. or US) or America, is a country Continental United States, primarily located in North America. It consists of 50 U.S. state, s ...
. Other names include state's attorney, state attorney, and commonwealth's attorney. The prosecution is the legal party responsible for presenting the case against an individual or a corporation suspected of breaking the law, initiating and directing further criminal investigations, guiding and recommending the sentencing of offenders, and are the only attorneys allowed to participate in grand jury proceedings. The titles of prosecutors in state courts vary from state to state and level of government (i.e. city, county, and state) and include the terms
District Attorney In the United States The United States of America (U.S.A. or USA), commonly known as the United States (U.S. or US) or America, is a country Continental United States, primarily located in North America. It consists of 50 U.S. state, s ...
in
New York New York most commonly refers to: * New York City, the most populous city in the United States, located in the state of New York * New York (state), a state in the northeastern United States New York may also refer to: Film and television * New ...
,
California California is a state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by the U.S. Department of State * The State (newspaper), ''The State'' (newspaper), a daily newspaper i ...

California
,
Texas Texas (, ; Spanish Spanish may refer to: * Items from or related to Spain: **Spaniards, a nation and ethnic group indigenous to Spain **Spanish language **Spanish cuisine Other places * Spanish, Ontario, Canada * Spanish River (disambigu ...

Texas
,
Pennsylvania Pennsylvania ( , elsewhere ; pdc, Pennsilfaani), officially the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, is a landlocked A landlocked country is a country that does not have territory connected to an ocean or whose coastlines lie on endorheic basi ...

Pennsylvania
,
Delaware Delaware ( ) is a state in the Mid-Atlantic (United States), Mid-Atlantic region of the United States, bordering Maryland to its south and west; Pennsylvania to its north; and New Jersey and the Atlantic Ocean to its east. The state takes i ...
,
Massachusetts Massachusetts (, ), officially the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, is the most populous state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by the U.S. Department of State * ...

Massachusetts
,
North Carolina North Carolina () is a state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by the U.S. Department of State * The State (newspaper), ''The State'' (newspaper), a daily news ...

North Carolina
,
Georgia Georgia usually refers to: * Georgia (country), a country in the Caucasus region of Eurasia * Georgia (U.S. state), one of the states of the United States of America Georgia may also refer to: Historical states and entities * Democratic Republ ...
,
Nevada Nevada (, ) is a state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by the U.S. Department of State * The State (newspaper), ''The State'' (newspaper), a daily newspaper i ...

Nevada
,
Wisconsin Wisconsin () is a state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by the U.S. Department of State * The State (newspaper), ''The State'' (newspaper), a daily newspaper ...

Wisconsin
,
Oregon Oregon () is a U.S. state, state in the Pacific Northwest region of the Western United States. The Columbia River delineates much of Oregon's northern boundary with Washington (state), Washington, while the Snake River delineates much of it ...

Oregon
, and
Oklahoma Oklahoma () is a U.S. state, state in the South Central United States, South Central region of the United States, bordered by the state of Texas on the south and west, Kansas on the north, Missouri on the northeast, Arkansas on the east, New ...
; City Attorney in
California California is a state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by the U.S. Department of State * The State (newspaper), ''The State'' (newspaper), a daily newspaper i ...

California
cities (typically prosecute only minor and misdemeanor offenses)
Commonwealth's Attorney In the United States The United States of America (USA), commonly known as the United States (U.S. or US), or America, is a country Contiguous United States, primarily located in North America. It consists of 50 U.S. state, states, a Was ...
in Kentucky and Virginia; County Attorney in
Nebraska Nebraska () is a state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by the U.S. Department of State * The State (newspaper), ''The State'' (newspaper), a daily newspaper ...

Nebraska
,
Minnesota Minnesota () is a state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by the U.S. Department of State * The State (newspaper), ''The State'' (newspaper), a daily newspaper ...

Minnesota
, and
Arizona Arizona ( ; nv, Hoozdo Hahoodzo ; ood, Alĭ ṣonak) is a U.S. state, state in the Southwestern United States, Southwestern region of the United States. It is also usually considered part of the Mountain States, Mountain states. It is th ...

Arizona
; County Prosecutor in
New Jersey New Jersey is a U.S. state, state in the Mid-Atlantic States, Mid-Atlantic and Northeastern United States, Northeastern regions of the United States. It is bordered on the north and east by the state of New York (state), New York; on the ea ...
,
Ohio Ohio () is a state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by the U.S. Department of State * The State (newspaper), ''The State'' (newspaper), a daily newspaper in Co ...

Ohio
, and
Indiana Indiana () is a U.S. state in the Midwestern United States, Midwestern United States. It is the List of U.S. states and territories by area, 38th-largest by area and the List of U.S. states and territories by population, 17th-most populous o ...

Indiana
; District Attorney General in Tennessee; Prosecuting Attorney in
Arkansas Arkansas () is a U.S. state, state in the South Central United States, South Central region of the United States, home to more than three million people as of 2018. Its name is from the Osage language, a Dhegihan languages, Dhegiha Siouan la ...

Arkansas
,
Hawaii Hawaii ( ; haw, Hawaii or ) is a state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by the U.S. Department of State * The State (newspaper), ''The State'' (newspape ...

Hawaii
,
Idaho Idaho () is a state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by the U.S. Department of State * The State (newspaper), ''The State'' (newspaper), a daily newspaper in ...

Idaho
,
Michigan Michigan () is a state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by the U.S. Department of State * The State (newspaper), ''The State'' (newspaper), a daily newspaper ...

Michigan
,
Washington Washington commonly refers to: * Washington (state), United States * Washington, D.C., the capital of the United States ** Federal government of the United States (metonym) ** Washington metropolitan area, the metropolitan area centered on Washingt ...
, and
West Virginia West Virginia () is a U.S. state, state in the Appalachian region, Appalachian, Mid-Atlantic (United States), Mid-Atlantic and Southeastern United States, Southeastern regions of the United States.The United States Census Bureau, Census Burea ...
(as well as in
Missouri Missouri is a state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by the U.S. Department of State * The State (newspaper), ''The State'' (newspaper), a daily newspaper in ...

Missouri
where cities additionally use "City Attorneys" to prosecute on their behalf);
State's Attorney In the United States, a district attorney (DA), state's attorney or state attorney is the chief prosecutor representing a U.S. state in a local government area, typically a County (United States), county. The exact name and scope of the office v ...

State's Attorney
in Connecticut, Florida, Illinois, Maryland, North Dakota, and Vermont; State Prosecutor; Attorney General in Delaware and Rhode Island; and Solicitor in South Carolina. Prosecutors are most often chosen through local elections, and typically hire other attorneys as deputies or assistants to conduct most of the actual work of the office.
United States Attorney United States attorneys represent the United States federal government A federation (also known as a federal state) is a political entity characterized by a union of partially self-governing provinces, states, or other regions under ...
s are appointed by the
President President most commonly refers to: *President (corporate title) A president is a leader of an organization, company, community, club, trade union, university or other group. The relationship between a president and a Chief Executive Officer, chi ...

President
and confirmed by the
Senate The Curia Julia in the Roman Forum ">Roman_Forum.html" ;"title="Curia Julia in the Roman Forum">Curia Julia in the Roman Forum A senate is a deliberative assembly, often the upper house or Debating chamber, chamber of a bicameral legislatu ...
. They represent the
federal government A federation (also known as a federal state) is a political entity A polity is an identifiable political Politics (from , ) is the set of activities that are associated with Decision-making, making decisions in Social group, groups, ...
in
federal court Federal court may refer to: United States * Federal judiciary of the United States ** United States district court, a particular federal court Elsewhere * Federal Court of Australia * Federal courts of Brazil * Federal Court (Canada) * Federal Cou ...
in both civil and criminal cases.
Private attorneys generalIn the United States, a private attorney general is an informal term for a private attorney who brings a lawsuit considered to be in the public interest, i.e., benefiting the general public and not just the plaintiff, on behalf of a citizen or group ...
can bring criminal cases on behalf of private parties in some states. Prosecutors are required by state and federal laws to follow certain rules. For example, the government must disclose exculpatory evidence to the defense; must disclose matters affecting the credibility of prosecution witnesses, such as an agreement to dismiss the witness's own charges in exchange for their testimony; must not destroy potentially useful evidence in bad faith; and must not use false testimony to secure a conviction. Failure to follow these rules may result in a finding of
prosecutorial misconduct In jurisprudence Jurisprudence, or legal theory, is the theoretical study of law. Scholars of jurisprudence seek to explain the nature of law in its most general form and provide a deeper understanding of legal reasoning, legal systems, La ...
, although a 2013 investigation found that actual discipline for prosecutorial misconduct was lacking. Prosecutors are also tasked with seeking justice in their prosecutions. "The United States Attorney," explained the U.S. Supreme Court,
is the representative not of an ordinary party to a controversy, but of a sovereignty whose obligation to govern impartially is as compelling as its obligation to govern at all, and whose interest, therefore, in a criminal prosecution is not that it shall win a case, but that justice shall be done. As such, he is in a peculiar and very definite sense the servant of the law, the two-fold aim of which is that guilt shall not escape or innocence suffer. He may prosecute with earnestness and vigor—indeed, he should do so. But, while he may strike hard blows, he is not at liberty to strike foul ones. It is as much his duty to refrain from improper methods calculated to produce a wrongful conviction as it is to use every legitimate means to bring about a just one.
Prosecutors in some jurisdictions have the discretion to not pursue criminal charges, even when there is
probable cause In United States criminal law Responsibility for criminal law and criminal justice in the United States is shared between the State governments of the United States, states and the Federal government of the United States, federal government. So ...
, if they determine that there is no reasonable likelihood of conviction. Prosecutors may dismiss charges in this situation by seeking a
voluntary dismissal Voluntary dismissal is termination of a lawsuit by voluntary request of the plaintiff (the party who originally filed the lawsuit). A voluntary dismissal with prejudice (meaning the plaintiff is permanently barred from further litigating the same ...
or
nolle prosequi , abbreviated or , is legal Latin meaning "to be unwilling to pursue".Nolle prosequi
. refe ...
. In
Kentucky Kentucky ( , ), officially the Commonwealth of Kentucky, is a state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by the U.S. Department of State * The State (newspaper), ...
,
Massachusetts Massachusetts (, ), officially the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, is the most populous state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by the U.S. Department of State * ...

Massachusetts
,
Pennsylvania Pennsylvania ( , elsewhere ; pdc, Pennsilfaani), officially the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, is a landlocked A landlocked country is a country that does not have territory connected to an ocean or whose coastlines lie on endorheic basi ...

Pennsylvania
, and
Virginia Virginia (), officially the Commonwealth of Virginia, is a state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by the U.S. Department of State * The State (newspaper), '' ...

Virginia
, criminal prosecutions are brought in the name of the
Commonwealth A commonwealth is a traditional English term for a political community founded for the common good In philosophy Philosophy (from , ) is the study of general and fundamental questions, such as those about reason, Metaphysics, existenc ...
. In
California California is a state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by the U.S. Department of State * The State (newspaper), ''The State'' (newspaper), a daily newspaper i ...

California
,
Colorado Colorado (, other variants) is a state in the Mountain West The Mountain West Conference (MW) is one of the collegiate athletic conferences affiliated with the National Collegiate Athletic Association The National Collegiate Athletic ...

Colorado
,
Illinois Illinois ( ) is a state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by the U.S. Department of State * The State (newspaper), ''The State'' (newspaper), a daily newspape ...

Illinois
,
Michigan Michigan () is a state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by the U.S. Department of State * The State (newspaper), ''The State'' (newspaper), a daily newspaper ...

Michigan
, and
New York New York most commonly refers to: * New York City, the most populous city in the United States, located in the state of New York * New York (state), a state in the northeastern United States New York may also refer to: Film and television * New ...
, criminal prosecutions are brought in the name of the People. In the remaining states, criminal prosecutions are brought in the name of the State.


Civil law jurisdictions

Prosecutors are typically
civil servant The civil service is a collective term for a sector of government composed mainly of career civil servants hired on professional merit rather than appointed or elected, whose institutional tenure typically survives transitions of political leader ...
s who possess a
university degree A university ( la, universitas, 'a whole') is an educational institution, institution of higher education, higher (or Tertiary education, tertiary) education and research which awards academic degrees in various Discipline (academia), academic d ...
in law and additional training in the administration of justice. In some countries, such as
France France (), officially the French Republic (french: link=no, République française), is a transcontinental country This is a list of countries located on more than one continent A continent is one of several large landmasses ...

France
and
Italy Italy ( it, Italia ), officially the Italian Republic ( it, Repubblica Italiana, links=no ), is a country consisting of a peninsula delimited by the Alps The Alps ; german: Alpen ; it, Alpi ; rm, Alps; sl, Alpe ) are the highest ...

Italy
, they are classed as judges.


Belgium

In Belgium, the Senior Crown prosecutor (''Procureur du Roi/Procureur des Konings'' in trial courts and ''Procureur Général/Procureur-Generaal'' in appellate courts) is supported by subordinate Crown prosecutors (''substituts/substituten''). They open preliminary investigations and can hold a suspect in custody for up to 48 hours. When necessary, a Crown prosecutor will request an examining judge (''juge d'instruction''/''onderzoeksrechter'') be appointed to lead a judicial inquest. With a judge investigating, Crown prosecutors do not conduct the interrogatories, but simply lay out the scope of the crimes which the judge and law enforcement forces investigate (''la saisine''). Like defense counsel, Crown prosecutors can request or suggest further investigation be carried out. The Crown prosecutor is in charge of policy decisions and may prioritize cases and procedures as need be. During a criminal trial, prosecutors must introduce and explain the case to the trier of fact, i.e., judges or jury. They generally suggest a reasonable sentence which the court is not obligated to follow; the court may decide on a tougher or softer sentence. Crown prosecutors also have a number of administrative duties. They may advise the court during civil actions. Under Belgian law, judges and prosecutors are judicial officers with equal rank and pay. The Minister of Justice can order a criminal investigation but cannot prevent one (''droit d'injonction positive''/''positief injunctierecht'').


Brazil

In
Brazil Brazil ( pt, Brasil; ), officially the Federative Republic of Brazil (Portuguese: ), is the largest country in both South America and Latin America. At 8.5 million square kilometers (3.2 million square miles) and with over 211 mill ...

Brazil
, the public prosecutors form a body of autonomous civil servants—the Brazilian Prosecution Services (''Ministério Público'')—working both at the federal and state level. Members of the Federal Prosecution Service are divided in three ranks, according to the jurisdiction of the courts before which they officiate. Federal Prosecutors (''Procuradores da República'') officiate before single judges and lower courts, Federal Circuit Prosecutors (''procuradores regionais da República'') before federal appellate courts, and Associate Federal Prosecutors General (''subprocuradores gerais da República'') before superior federal courts. The Prosecutor General of the Republic (''Procurador Geral da República'') heads the federal body, and tries cases before the
Brazilian Supreme Court
Brazilian Supreme Court
. At the state level, the career is usually divided in state prosecutors (''promotores de Justiça'') who practice before the lower courts and state apellate prosecutors (''procuradores de Justiça'') who practice before the state courts of appeals. There are also military prosecutors whose career, although linked to the federal prosecutors, is divided in a manner similar to state prosecutors. In Brazil the prosecutors' main job is to promote justice, as such they have the duty of not only trying criminal cases, but, if during the trial, they become convinced of a defendant's innocence, requesting the judge to acquit him. The prosecutor's office has always the last word on whether criminal offenses will or will not be charged, with the exception of those rare cases in which Brazilian law allows for private prosecution. In such cases, the prosecutor will officiate as ''custos legis'', being responsible to ensure that justice is indeed carried out. Although empowered by law to do so, prosecutors conduct criminal investigations only in major cases, usually involving police or public officials' wrongdoings. Also, they are in charge of external control over police activity and requesting the initiation of a police investigation. The power of individual prosecutors to hold criminal investigations was controversial and, although massively supported by judges, prosecutors and the general population, it was contested before the Supremo Tribunal Federal, but in 2015, this Court decided favorably to its power (RGE n. 593.727-MG). According to a 2012 law, the chief of police (''delegado de polícia''), as the police authority, is responsible for conducting the criminal investigation in Brazil by means of a police investigation (''inquérito policial'') or other procedure provided by law that has the purpose of ascertaining the circumstances, materiality, and authorship of criminal offenses. Similar provisions are found in the Code of Criminal Procedure and in article 144 of the federal constitution. Beside their criminal duties, Brazilian prosecutors are among those authorized by the Brazilian constitution to bring action against private individuals, commercial enterprises, and the federal, state and municipal governments, in the defense of minorities, the environment, consumers, and the civil society in general.


France

In
France France (), officially the French Republic (french: link=no, République française), is a transcontinental country This is a list of countries located on more than one continent A continent is one of several large landmasses ...

France
, the Office of the Prosecutor includes a Chief Prosecutor (''Procureur de la République'' in trial courts and ''procureur général'' in
appellate court An appellate court, commonly called an ''appeals court'', ''court of appeals'' (American English American English (AmE, AE, AmEng, USEng, en-US), sometimes called United States English or U.S. English, is the set of varieties of the Eng ...
s or the
Supreme Court A supreme court is the highest court A court is any person or institution, often as a government institution, with the authority to Adjudication, adjudicate legal disputes between Party (law), parties and carry out the administration of just ...
) and his deputies and assistants (''avocats généraux'' and ''substituts''). The Chief Prosecutor generally initiates preliminary investigations and, if necessary, asks that an examining judge (''
juge d'instruction In an inquisitorial system of law, the examining magistrate (also called investigating magistrate, inquisitorial magistrate, or investigating judge), is a judge who carries out pre-trial investigations into allegations of crime and in some cases mak ...

juge d'instruction
'') be assigned to lead a formal judicial investigation. When an investigation is led by a judge, the prosecutor plays a supervisory role, defining the scope of the crimes being examined by the judge and law enforcement forces. Like defense counsel, the chief prosecutor may
petition A petition is a request to do something, most commonly addressed to a government official or public entity. Petitions to a deity A deity or god is a supernatural being considered divinity, divine or sacred. The ''Oxford Dictionary of English'' ...

petition
or move for further investigation. During criminal proceedings, prosecutors are responsible for presenting the case at trial to either the bench or the
jury A jury is a sworn body of people (the jurors) convened to render an impartial Impartiality (also called evenhandedness or fair-mindedness) is a principle of justice holding that decisions should be based on objectivity (philosophy), objective ...

jury
. Prosecutors generally suggest advisory sentencing guidelines, but the sentence remains at the court's discretion to decide, to increase or reduce as it sees fit. In addition, prosecutors have several administrative duties. Prosecutors are considered magistrates under French law, as in most
civil law Civil law may refer to: * Civil law (common law) Civil law is a major branch of the law.Glanville Williams. ''Learning the Law''. Eleventh Edition. Stevens. 1982. p. 2. In common law legal systems such as England and Wales and the law of the United ...
countries. While the defense and the plaintiff are both represented by common lawyers, who sit (on chairs) on the courtroom floor, the prosecutor sits on a platform as the judge does, although he doesn't participate in deliberation. Judges and prosecutors are trained at the same school, and regard one other as colleagues.


Germany

In
Germany ) , image_map = , map_caption = , map_width = 250px , capital = Berlin Berlin (; ) is the Capital city, capital and List of cities in Germany by population, largest city of Germany by both area and population. Its 3,769,495 inh ...

Germany
, the '' Staatsanwalt'' ("state attorney") is a life-tenured public official in the senior judicial service belonging to the same
corps Corps (; plural ''corps'' ; from French , from the Latin "body") is a term used for several different kinds of organization. A military innovation by Napoleon, the formation was first named as such in 1805. The size of a corps varies greatly ...

corps
as
judge A judge is a person who presides over court A court is any person or institution, often as a government A government is the system or group of people governing an organized community, generally a State (polity), state. In th ...

judge
s. The Staatsanwalt heads pre-trial criminal investigations, decides whether to press a charge or drop it, and represents the government in criminal courts. He not only has the "professional responsibility" not to withhold exculpatory information, but is also required by law to actively determine such circumstances and to make them available to the defendant or his/her defense attorney. If he is not convinced of the defendant's guilt, the state attorney is required to plead against or in favor of the defendant according to the prosecutor's own assessment. Prosecution is compulsory if the prosecutor has sufficient evidence to convict.


Italy

In
Italy Italy ( it, Italia ), officially the Italian Republic ( it, Repubblica Italiana, links=no ), is a country consisting of a peninsula delimited by the Alps The Alps ; german: Alpen ; it, Alpi ; rm, Alps; sl, Alpe ) are the highest ...

Italy
, a Prosecutor's Office is composed of a Chief Prosecutor (''procuratore capo'') assisted by deputies (''procuratori aggiunti'') and assistants (''sostituti procuratori''). Prosecutors in Italy are judicial officers just like judges and are ceremonially referred to as ''Pubblico Ministero'' ("Public Ministry" or P.M.). Italian Prosecutors officiate as '' custos legis'', being responsible to ensure that justice is indeed carried out. They are obligated under the Constitution to initiate preliminary investigations once they are informed or take personal notice of a criminal act—''notitia criminis''—or receive a bill of complaint. They can direct investigations or conduct them through orders and directives given to (judicial) police detectives, who can make their own parallel investigations in coordination with the Prosecutor. If enough evidence has been gathered in order to proceed, the prosecution is compulsory and it must move from preliminary investigations to initiate trial proceedings. At trial, the prosecuting attorney has to handle the prosecution but has an overarching duty to promote justice. In practice, this duty means that prosecutors are prohibited from withholding exculpatory evidence and must request that the judge acquit the defendant if, during the trial, the prosecutor becomes convinced of the defendant's innocence, or agrees that there is no evidence that proves his guilt beyond any reasonable doubt. In appellate courts, the Office of the Prosecutor is called ''Procura Generale'' and the Chief Prosecutor the ''Procuratore Generale'' (PG). The ''Procuratore Generale presso la Corte di Cassazione'' is the Chief General Prosecutor before the Corte di Cassazione, the Supreme Court of Italy. Prosecutors are allowed during their career to act in the other's stead, but a recent ruling by the Italian Corte Costituzionale, Constitutional Court stated that prosecutors, who wish to become judges, must relocate to another region and are prohibited to sit or hear trials that they themselves initiated.


Japan

In Japan, are professional officials who have considerable powers of investigation, prosecution, superintendence of criminal execution and so on. Prosecutors can direct police for investigation purposes, and sometimes investigate directly. Only prosecutors can prosecute criminals in principle, and prosecutors can decide whether to prosecute or not. High-ranking officials of the Ministry of Justice (Japan), Ministry of Justice are largely prosecutors.


Poland

The highest-ranking prosecutor office of the Prokuratura in Poland is the Public Prosecutor General (Poland), Prokurator Generalny (General Prosecutor)—chief of the Public Prosecutor General (Poland), Prokuratura Generalna (General Prosecutor Office). The GP has 5 deputies. Structure of Public Prosecutor in Poland is 4-level: General Prosecutor Office --> Appellation Prosecutor Offices (11) --> District Prosecutor Offices (46) --> Regional Prosecutor Offices (326).


South Korea

Prosecutors are public officials who are members of the Supreme Prosecutors' Office of the Republic of Korea, Prosecutor's Office. Prosecutors can conduct crime investigations directly or indirectly. They are responsible for the entire process of investigations and court prosecutions. Since Korean modern law was designed after civil law, the role of Korean prosecutors is similar or identical to that of European equivalents in commanding investigations, determining indictable cases and prosecuting process. A prosecutor has the power to prohibit a defendant or an accused individual from departing the Republic of Korea via an "international hold".


Sweden

In Sweden, public prosecutors are lawyers who work out of the Swedish Prosecution Authority ( sv, Åklagarmyndigheten) and direct police investigations of serious crimes. For all criminal cases, public prosecutors decide arrests and charges on behalf of the public and are the only public officers who can make such decisions. Plaintiffs also have the option of hiring their own special prosecutor (''enskilt åtal''). The exception is cases concerning crimes against the freedom of the press for which the Chancellor of Justice (Sweden), Chancellor of Justice acts as the prosecuting attorney. In court, the prosecutor is not necessarily in an adversarial relationship to the defendant, but is under an obligation to investigate and present information that may incriminate or exhonerate the defendant. The prosecutor is not a judicial officer, nor do they participate in the private deliberations of the court. Public prosecutors are the only public officers who can decide to appeal cases to Courts of appeal in Sweden, appellate courts. Otherwise, appeals are initiated by defense counsel, the plaintiff, their representatives, and other parties to the case (''målsäganden''). When a case has been decided by an appellate court, the right to appeal to the Supreme Court of Sweden, Supreme Court passes from the case's prosecutor to the Prosecutor-General of Sweden, Prosecutor-General ( sv, Riksåklagaren).


Socialist law jurisdictions

A Public Procurator is an office used in Socialist law, Socialist judicial systems which, in some ways, corresponds to that of a public prosecutor in other legal systems, but with more far-reaching responsibilities, such as handling investigations otherwise performed by branches of the police. Conversely, the policing systems in socialist countries, such as the Militsiya of the Soviet Union, were not aimed at fulfilling the same roles as police forces in Democratic countries.


People's Republic of China

A Public Procurator is a position in the People's Republic of China, analogous to both detective and public prosecutor. Legally, they are bound by Public Procurators' Law of the People's Republic of China. According to Article 6, the functions and duties of public procurators are as follows: #Supervise the enforcement of laws according to law. #Public prosecution on behalf of the State. #Investigate criminal cases directly accepted by the People's Procuratorates as provided by law. #Other functions and duties as provided by law.


Vietnam

The Supreme People's Procuracy of Vietnam, Supreme People's Procuracy is the highest office of public procurators in Vietnam.


Institutional independence

In many countries, the prosecutor's administration is directly subordinate to the executive branch (e.g., the US Attorney General is a member of the President's cabinet). In some other countries, such as
Italy Italy ( it, Italia ), officially the Italian Republic ( it, Repubblica Italiana, links=no ), is a country consisting of a peninsula delimited by the Alps The Alps ; german: Alpen ; it, Alpi ; rm, Alps; sl, Alpe ) are the highest ...

Italy
or
Brazil Brazil ( pt, Brasil; ), officially the Federative Republic of Brazil (Portuguese: ), is the largest country in both South America and Latin America. At 8.5 million square kilometers (3.2 million square miles) and with over 211 mill ...

Brazil
, the prosecutors are judicial civil servants, so they have the same liberties and independence that judges traditionally enjoy. In other countries, a form of private prosecution is available, meaning persons or private entities can directly petition the courts to hold trial against someone they feel is guilty of a crime, should the prosecutor refuse to indict.


Private prosecution

In the early history of England, victims of a crime and their family had the right to hire a private attorney to prosecute criminal charges against the person alleged to have injured the victim. In the 18th century, prosecution of almost all criminal offences in England was private, usually by the victim. In Colonial America, because of Dutch (and possibly French) practice and the expansion of the office of
attorney general #REDIRECT Attorney general In most common law In law, common law (also known as judicial precedent or judge-made law, or case law) is the body of law created by judges and similar quasi-judicial tribunals by virtue of being stated in written opinio ...
, public officials came to dominate the prosecution of crimes. However, privately funded prosecutors constituted a significant element of the state criminal justice system throughout the nineteenth century. The use of a private prosecutor was incorporated into the
common law In law, common law (also known as judicial precedent or judge-made law, or case law Case law is the collection of past legal decisions written by courts and similar tribunal A tribunal, generally, is any person or institution with authority ...
of
Virginia Virginia (), officially the Commonwealth of Virginia, is a state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by the U.S. Department of State * The State (newspaper), '' ...

Virginia
, but is no longer permitted there. Private prosecutors were also used in
North Carolina North Carolina () is a state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by the U.S. Department of State * The State (newspaper), ''The State'' (newspaper), a daily news ...

North Carolina
as late as 1975. Private prosecution has been used in Nigeria, but the practice is being phased out. Bruce L. Benson's ''To Serve and Protect (book), To Serve and Protect'' lauds the role of private prosecutors, often employed by prosecution associations, in serving the needs of crime victims in England. Libertarianism, Libertarian theory holds that public prosecutors should not exist, but that crimes should instead be treated as civil torts. Murray Rothbard writes, "In a libertarian world, there would be no crimes against an ill-defined 'society,' and therefore no such person as a 'district attorney' who decides on a charge and then presses those charges against an alleged criminal."


See also

* Public procurator * Magistrats Européens pour la Démocratie et les Libertés (European Association of Judges and Public Prosecutors).


References


Bibliography

* Gad Barzilai. ''The Attorney General and the State Prosecutor: Is Institutional Separation Warranted?'' (Jerusalem: The Israel Democracy Institute, 2010)
The Index of Arab-Jewish Relations in Israel 2012 (English)
* Hugo Nigro Mazzilli. ''Regime Juridico do Ministério Público'', 5ª edição, São Paulo: Saraiva, 2001. * Raoul Muhm, Gian Carlo Caselli (Hrsg.), ''Die Rolle des Staatsanwaltes Erfahrungen in Europa–Il ruolo del Pubblico Ministero Esperienze in Europa–Le role du Magistrat du Parquet Expériences en Europe–The role of the Public Prosecutor Experiences in Europe'', Vecchiarelli Editore Manziana (Roma) 2005 * Raoul Muhm, "The role of the Public Prosecutor in Germany" in ''The Irish Jurist'', Volume XXXVIII, New Series 2003, The Law Faculty, University College, Dubli

* Erick Maurel, ''Paroles de procureur'' (Paris: Gallimard, 2008),


External links


Prosecutor.info
indexes almost 2,900 prosecutor web sites throughout the US and other countries.
ProsecutorTips.com
Free trial advocacy tips for prosecutors and trial

Summaries of Recent U.S. Criminal Law Decisions
CCPE
Consultative Council of European Prosecutors

"diritto – history"
IAP
International Association of Prosecutors
Private Prosecution in UK
Edmonds Marshall McMahon Leading Private Prosecutors {{Authority control Government occupations Local government Legal professions Prosecution Criminal law Prosecutors, Law enforcement