An advocate in court
Occupation Activity sectors Law Description Competencies Advocacy skills, analytical mind, sense of justice Education required Bar Vocational Course (and possibly Common Professional Examination), Bar exam
The prosecutor is the chief legal representative of the prosecution in countries with either the common law adversarial system, or the civil law inquisitorial system. The prosecution is the legal party responsible for presenting the case in a criminal trial against an individual accused of breaking the law.
- 1 Common law jurisdictions
- 2 Civil law jurisdictions
- 3 Socialist law jurisdictions
- 4 Institutional independence
- 5 Private prosecution
- 6 See also
- 7 References
- 8 Bibliography
- 9 External links
Common law jurisdictions
Prosecutors are typically lawyers who possess a law degree, and are recognized as legal professionals by the court in which they intend to represent the state (the society) (that is, they have been admitted to the bar).
They usually only become involved in a criminal case once a suspect has been identified and charges need to be filed. They are typically employed by an office of the government, with safeguards in place to ensure such an office can successfully pursue the prosecution of government officials. Often, multiple offices exist in a single country, especially 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 usually subject to special professional responsibility rules in addition to those binding all lawyers. For example, in the United States, Rule 3.8 of the ABA Model Rules of Professional Conduct 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."
Directors of Public Prosecutions
In Australia, Canada, England and Wales, Hong Kong, Northern Ireland, Ireland and South Africa, the head of the prosecuting authority is typically known as the Director of Public Prosecutions, and is appointed, not elected. A DPP may be subject to varying degrees of control by the Attorney General, usually by a formal written directive which must be published.
In Australia, 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.
In the United States, the director of any such offices may be known by any of several names depending on the legal jurisdiction.
The terms County Attorney, Prosecuting Attorney (in Michigan, Indiana, Hawaii, and West Virginia), County Prosecutor, State Attorney, State's Attorney, State Prosecutor, Commonwealth's Attorney (in Virginia and Kentucky), District Attorney (in some states), District Attorney General (in Tennessee), Prosecuting Attorney (in Missouri, Idaho and Washington counties), Attorney General (in Rhode Island and Delaware), and City Attorney (in Missouri cities that have city prosecutors and all Washington state cities) are all titles of prosecutors in various state courts. Prosecutors are most often chosen through local elections. United States Attorneys represent the federal government in federal court, in both civil and criminal cases. "Private attorneys general" represent the People of the United States of America in federal court, in both civil and criminal cases.
Though Scots law is a mixed system, its civil law jurisdiction indicates its civil law heritage. Here, all prosecutions are carried out by Procurators Fiscal and Advocates Depute on behalf of the Lord Advocate, and, in theory, they can direct investigations by the police. In very serious cases, a Procurator Fiscal, Advocate Depute or even the Lord Advocate, may take charge of a police investigation. It's 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 fines and non-court based interventions, such as rehabilitation and social work. All prosecutions are handled within the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service. 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.
Civil law jurisdictions
Prosecutors are typically civil servants who possess a university degree in law, and additional training in the administration of justice. In some countries, such as France and Italy, they belong to the same corps of civil servants as the judges.
In Belgium, the Senior Crown prosecutor, or Procureur du Roi / Procureur des Konings (or Procureur Général / Procureur-Generaal in appellate courts and in the Supreme Court), is supported by crown prosecutors (substituts / substituten). He opens preliminary investigations and can hold a suspect in custody for 24 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 lays 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, 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 but not forbid a criminal investigation (droit d'injonction positive / positief injunctierecht).
In Brazil, the public prosecutors form a body of autonomous magistrates - the Ministério Público (literally Public Ministry) - working both at the federal and state level. The procuradores da República - federal prosecutors - are divided in three ranks, according to the jurisdiction of the courts before which they officiate, thus the "procuradores da República" (federal prosecutors) officiate before single judges and lower courts, "procuradores regionais da República" (prosecutors who officiate before federal appellate courts), and "subprocuradores gerais da República" (prosecutors who officiate before the superior federal courts). The Procurador Geral da República heads the federal body, and tries cases before the Supremo Tribunal Federal (STF), Brazil's highest court, in charge of judicial review and the judgment of criminal offenses perpetrated by federal legislators, members of the cabinet, and the President of Brazil. At the state level, the career is usually divided in "promotores de Justiça" (state prosecutors), which officiate before the lower courts, and "procuradores de Justiça" (prosecutors officiating before the states' court 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 supervising police work and directing the police in their investigations. The power of individual prosecutors to hold criminal investigations is still controversial and, although massively supported by judges, prosecutors and the general population, it is being contested before the Supremo Tribunal Federal. 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.
In France, the Office of the Prosecutor includes a Chief Prosecutor, or Procureur de la République (or procureur général in an appellate court or in the Supreme Court) assisted by deputy prosecutors (avocats généraux) and assistant prosecutors (substituts). The Chief Prosecutor generally initiates preliminary investigations and, if necessary, asks an examining judge, or 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 or motion for further investigation. During criminal proceedings, prosecutors are responsible for presenting the case at trial to either the Bench or jury. They generally suggest advisory sentencing guidelines, but it remains at the Court's discretion to decide its own sentence, increased or reduced as it sees fit. In addition, prosecutors have several administrative duties.
In Germany, the Staatsanwalt (literally 'state attorney') not only has the "professional responsibility" (as mentioned above) 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/hers defense attorney. In case he is not convinced of the defendants guilt, the state attorney is required to plead in favour of the defendant (RiStBV, No. 138/139). Prosecution is compulsory if the prosecutor has sufficient evidence to convict.
In Italy, a Prosecutor's Office is composed of a Chief Prosecutor (procuratore capo) assisted by deputy prosecutors (procuratori aggiunti) and assistant prosecutors (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, the so called notitia criminis, or receive a bill of complaint. They can make direct investigations or conduct them through orders and directives given to (judicial) police detectives (which anyway have the chance to 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 is prohibited from withholding exculpatory evidence, for they have to promote justice, which means that they have the duty of not only trying criminal cases, but, to request the judge to acquit him if, during the trial, they become convinced of a defendant's innocence, or agree that there's no evidence, beyond any reasonable doubt, of his guiltiness.
In appellate courts, the Office of the Prosecutor is called Procura Generale and the Chief Prosecutor 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 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.
In Japan, public prosecutors kensatsu-kan (検察官) are professional officials who have considerable powers of investigation, prosecution, superintendence of criminal execution and so on. Prosecutors can direct police(detectives) for investigation purposes, and sometimes investigate directly(sometimes). Only prosecutors can prosecute criminals in principle, and prosecutors can decide whether to prosecute or not. High-ranking officials of the Ministry of Justice are largely prosecutors.
In Korea's civil law system, each prosecutor constitutes a separate and independent government institute to investigate and file appeals. The whole prosecution is also called as one as the whole (검사동일체원칙). The ministry of justice can lead the head of the prosecution, but each prosecutor only follows the order of the head of the prosecution. Prosecutors have the rights to investigate and police follows the lead of the prosecution. It is a long fight between police and the prosecution to take the right to investigate.
The highest ranking prosecutor office in Poland is the General Prosecutor. 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).
In Sweden, public prosecutors are lawyers who work out of the Swedish Office of Public Prosecutions (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 Attorney General 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 which may incriminate or exhonerate the defendant. He is not a judicial officer, nor does he participate in the private deliberations of the court.
Public prosecutors are the only public officers who can decide to appeal cases to appellate courts (hovrätter). 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 passes from the case's prosecutor to the Director of Public Prosecutions (Riksåklagaren).
Socialist law jurisdictions
A Public Procurator is an office used in 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 Western democracies.
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.
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 or Brazil - the prosecutors are judicial civil servants and so their hierarchy is installed with the same (or nearly the same) liberties and independence warranties which the judges traditionally enjoy.
In other countries, a form of private prosecution is available, meaning person(s) or a private entity can directly petition the courts to hold trial against someone they feel is guilty of a crime, should the prosecutor refuse to indict him/her.
In the early history of England, the victim of a crime and his 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 offenses 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, 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 of Virginia and is still permitted there. Private prosecutors were also used in 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 lauds the role of private prosecutors, often employed by prosecution associations, in serving the needs of crime victims in England. Radical 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." Private prosecution has been cited as a remedy for district attorneys' unwarranted inaction.
- M.E.D.E.L European association of judges and public prosecutors.
- ^ Herrmann, Joachim (1973-1974), Rule of Compulsory Prosecution and the Scope of Prosecutorial Discretion in Germany, The, 41, U. Chi. L. Rev., pp. 468, http://heinonlinebackup.com/hol-cgi-bin/get_pdf.cgi?handle=hein.journals/uclr41§ion=33
- ^ Carlo Guarnieri (January 1997), The judiciary in the Italian political crisis, 20, West European Politics, pp. 157–175, doi:10.1080/01402389708425179, http://www.informaworld.com/smpp/content~content=a787785358&db=all
- ^ a b Nichols, Matthew S. (2000-2001), No One Can Serve Two Masters: Arguments against Private Prosecutors, 13, Cap. Def. J., http://heinonlinebackup.com/hol-cgi-bin/get_pdf.cgi?handle=hein.journals/hjlpp9§ion=38
- ^ Friedman, David D. (1995), Making Sense of English Law Enforcement in the Eighteenth Century, 2, U. Chi. L. Sch. Roundtable, pp. 475, http://heinonlinebackup.com/hol-cgi-bin/get_pdf.cgi?handle=hein.journals/ucroun2§ion=23
- ^ Robert M. Ireland (Jan., 1995). "Privately Funded Prosecution of Crime in the Nineteenth-Century United States". The American Journal of Legal History (Temple University) 39 (1): 43–58. JSTOR 845749.
- ^ Sidman, Andrew (1975-1976), Outmoded Concept of Private Prosecution, The, 25, Am. U. L. Rev., pp. 754
- ^ Isabella Okagbue (Spring, 1990). "Private Prosecution in Nigeria: Recent Developments and Some Proposals". Journal of African Law (Cambridge University Press on behalf of the School of Oriental and African Studies) 34 (1): 53–66. JSTOR 745600.
- ^ Rothbard, Murray, "Punishment and Proportionality", The Ethics of Liberty, http://mises.org/rothbard/ethics/thirteen.asp
- ^ "Private Prosecution: A Remedy for District Attorneys' Unwarranted Inaction". The Yale Law Journal (The Yale Law Journal Company, Inc.) 65 (2): 209–234. Dec., 1955. JSTOR 793827.
- Gad Barzilai The Attorney General and the State Prosecutor: Is Institutional Separation Warrented? Jerusalem: The Israel Democracy Institute, 2010 
- MAZZILLI, Hugo Nigro. 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 ISBN 88-8247-156-X
- Raoul Muhm, "The role of the Public Prosecutor in Germany" in The Irish Jurist, Volume XXXVIII, New Series 2003, The Law Faculty, University College, Dublin 
- Erick Maurel, Paroles de procureur (ed.GALLIMARD 2008 – PARIS), ISBN 978-2070119776
- www.prosecutor.info indexes almost 2,900 prosecutor web sites throughout the USA and other countries.
- www.ProsecutorTips.com Free trial advocacy tips for prosecutors and trial
- Summaries of Recent U.S. Criminal Law Decisions
- CCPE Consultative council of European prosecutors
- L'Archivio "diritto – history"
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Look at other dictionaries:
prosecutor — pros·e·cu·tor / prä si ˌkyü tər/ n 1: a person who institutes a prosecution (as by making an affidavit or complaint charging the defendant) 2: a government attorney who presents the state s case against the defendant in a criminal prosecution… … Law dictionary
prosecutor — pros‧e‧cu‧tor [ˈprɒsɪkjuːtə ǁ ˈprɑːsɪkjuːtər] noun [countable] LAW 1. a lawyer who represents the authorities in bringing a criminal charge against someone 2. a lawyer representing the government in a court of law: • The agreement between the two … Financial and business terms
Prosecutor — Pros e*cu tor, n. [Cf. L. prosecutor an attendant.] 1. One who prosecutes or carries on any purpose, plan, or business. [1913 Webster] 2. (Law) The person who institutes and carries on a criminal suit against another in the name of the government … The Collaborative International Dictionary of English
prosecutor — 1590s, from M.L. prosecutor, agent noun from prosequi (see PROSECUTE (Cf. prosecute)). Related: Prosecutorial … Etymology dictionary
Prosecutor — (spr. próßekjutor), im engl. Strafprozeß der die Verfolgung eines Verbrechens Betreibende, der Ankläger. Er beantragt zu diesem Zweck zunächst eine Voruntersuchung (examination) vor einem Friedensrichter (s. d.). In dem Termin vor diesem trägt… … Meyers Großes Konversations-Lexikon
prosecutor — a person who prosecutes, especially in a criminal court, is spelt or, not er … Modern English usage
prosecutor — ► NOUN 1) a person, especially a public official, who prosecutes someone. 2) a lawyer who conducts the case against a defendant. DERIVATIVES prosecutorial adjective … English terms dictionary
prosecutor — [präs′ə kyo͞ot΄ər] n. [ML < LL, companion, attendant] 1. a person who prosecutes 2. Law a) a person who institutes a prosecution in court b) PROSECUTING ATTORNEY … English World dictionary
prosecutor — /pros i kyooh teuhr/, n. 1. Law. a. See prosecuting attorney. b. a person, as a complainant or chief witness, instigating prosecution in a criminal proceeding. 2. a person who prosecutes. [1590 1600; < ML, LL prosecutor pursuer. See PROSECUTE,… … Universalium
prosecutor — One who prosecutes another for a crime in the name of the government. One who instigates the prosecution upon which an accused is arrested or who prefers an accusation against the party whom he suspects to be guilty, as does a district, county,… … Black's law dictionary