Prosecutor Vs Defense Attorney: Differences You Didn’t Know About

prosecutor vs defense attorney

It is crucial to understand the role of everyone present in the court. How would they affect you in your case? If you have half-knowledge about the justice system, things may get complicated.

The most common confusion is whether you need to hire a prosecutor or a defense attorney. You may be wondering how their jobs are different and whether there are differences in their legal expertise.

The prosecutor is the attorney for presenting the case against a suspect accused of a crime, and the lawyer who fights for the accused and pleads for him is the defense attorney. The following article discusses the differences between prosecution and defense.

What is Prosecution?

After the arrest, the accused’s case and any evidence gathered will go to the District Attorney’s office. The prosecutor will examine it and decide if there are any criminal charges to pursue. This office is headed over by a lawyer who supervises the office of legal experts, and they are all civil servants working to protect the public interest.

One of the most common misconceptions about prosecutors is that they represent victims of crime. While they work closely with victims and often victims’ wishes are taken into account, they ultimately serve justice and the general public above all else.

American law holds that everyone is innocent until proven guilty. It is on the prosecutor to prove guilt, not the defender to prove innocence. A prosecutor must have enough evidence beyond a reasonable doubt to meet the standard of proof used in criminal cases.

That is the top level of proof in any court. Because a person’s liberty is at stake, the prosecutor cannot simply prove that the defendant is likely to be guilty. He must prove every aspect of his criminal charge in ways that no other conclusion is possible other than that the defendant committed the crime.

For example, if the prosecutor wants to charge your friend with grand theft auto, they must prove all of the following points:

  1. The defendant took the vehicle or drove it.
  2. The vehicle was not the defendant’s property.
  3. The vehicle owner did not give the defendant permission or consent to take over or drive the vehicle.
  4. The defendant intended to make the owner permanently deprived of the vehicle.

Even if the prosecutor could prove some points but not each one, they would have insufficient evidence and have either dismissed the case or pursued other criminal charges such as a riding violation.

In some cases, the prosecutor can use a grand jury to help determine whether there is enough evidence to proceed with criminal charges, not whether the defendant is guilty.

What is a Defense?

Defense attorneys can be either public or private, unlike prosecutors. So if an accused can’t find or afford a personal attorney to take his case, he’ll be assigned a public defender who operates for the government.

One of the first things that the defense team will do is file a motion for discovery. It means that it is a must for the prosecution to turn over any evidence they intend to use against an accused in court. In this case, it may include the police report of the incident, a list of witnesses interviewed and accompanying documentation, DMV records, and records of the accused’s communications with the victim.

The most crucial thing a criminal defense attorney can do is to create reasonable doubt. Since they don’t need to prove their client’s innocence, they need to come up with a good enough reason why the prosecution’s argument is flawed. 

Depending on the circumstances of the case, they may attempt to uncover falsehoods in the police report, inconsistencies in witness statements, create an alibi, or present other potentially exculpatory evidence. It is then on the judge and jury to decide their fate.

Prosecutor Vs Defense Attorney

A good courtroom handles a sensitive case with an intelligent plaintiff and defendant arguing. Each round of evidence changes the suspect. And finally, an emotional line-up of personalities is settled in the courtroom.

A scene like this is simply one of the most engaging scenes for a usually curious and idle person. It gnaws at one’s heart. And that one knows it is impossible to sleep or fully concentrate unless one sees the conclusion of that courtroom.

Why does it attract so much attention? Why do people have sleepless nights after an unfinished episode of prosecution and defense?

Attack and Defense

It is a long-assumed fact. At every wrong turn, a cross between an angel and a devil would appear in one’s mind. So let’s state that. It is the presence of a prosecutor and a defense, the good or bad, inside the courtroom, to make us connect to the traditional courtroom in any film or video. The desire to understand and know the conclusion of a case is proven to be the culprit responsible for the sleepless nights of countless curious people.


Each case has a particular prosecutor and defendant assigned to it. Here, the plaintiff is the one filing the suit. The public prosecutor, therefore, is responsible for charging the accused person. Therefore, this person needs to gather information and evidence to determine whether the case can be proven and convince a jury to find the defendant guilty. A defense attorney, on the other hand, is the complete opposite. This person tries to topple the evidence presented by the prosecutor.

Appeals and Double Jeopardy

The prosecutor gets only one chance to convict, whereas the defense attorney gets more than a single chance to get a not-guilty verdict. Since double jeopardy is banned, the prosecution cannot pursue another jury trial after acquitting the accused. If the trial results in a guilty verdict, the defense gets the appeals against the conviction. The procedure for appeal includes many appellate courts, and thus the process can be lengthy. However, the defense can get a retrial.


The public prosecutor doesn’t have clients. They get employed by the government. They review arrest records and decide when to press charges or drop a case. If the case goes to trial, it will be the prosecutor’s job to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant was guilty. They can also recommend a sentence, but a judge gives the final decision.

They can work for the government and provide legal advice as a public defender. Because every accused person has the right to an attorney, public defenders are available to people who cannot afford to hire a lawyer. Defense attorneys can also get employed in the private sector, getting hired by a person accused of a crime.

Can a Lawyer Practice Both as a Prosecutor and a Defense Attorney?

It is an unusual practice. Most lawyers specialize in criminal prosecution or criminal defense, and most law firms only specialize in private prosecution or criminal defense. However, it is not uncommon to see attorneys who have previously served as both prosecutors and defense attorneys in criminal cases.

When an attorney is well-experienced in both prosecution and defense in criminal cases, the attorney can understand both sides of the case. Thus, find better ways to advance your legal interest.

Former prosecutors who are now defense attorneys have surgeon-like skills to build your best defense because they can quickly predict what the prosecutor is likely to do in your case.


Now that we know about prosecutor vs defense attorney, we can conclude that the public prosecutor works only in criminal cases, and a defense attorney can choose to work on a criminal or civil case. In rare cases, a defense attorney may represent clients in both arenas. Generally, a civil action begins when the plaintiff files a lawsuit against the defendant in a court. 

Plaintiffs typically seek to show that the defendant did something wrong, such as breach of contract, and obtain monetary damages. A civil defense attorney -represents the defendant in civil disputes at every stage. However, unlike in a criminal case, the defendant must hire his defense attorney. The government will not intervene if the defendant cannot afford to go to trial.


What is the difference between a prosecutor and a defense lawyer?

The main difference between a prosecuting attorney and a defense attorney is that they oppose each other during the process. The public prosecutor is responsible for prosecuting the crime for which the accused gets tried. They do this by gathering evidence, witness statements, and more to prove to a judge and jury, if present, that the defendant is guilty of the crime.

Do prosecutors and defense attorneys have different educational requirements?

Both prosecutors and defense attorneys have the same training to become lawyers, and they must complete a four-year undergraduate program succeeded by three years of law school. Finally, they must pass the bar exam to get admitted to the bar. Regardless of what they are, be they prosecutors or defense attorneys, all lawyers must complete a minimum of seven years of education before being licensed to practice law.

If someone is facing charges, should they hire a prosecutor?

No, you should not hire a prosecutor during criminal charges. You must retain a criminal defense attorney. As noted above, prosecutors defend the community or the victim in the case of private prosecutors. You must hire a criminal defense attorney to protect your rights if you get accused. And if you cannot afford to retain one, you will get one.