The Role of the Prosecutor
All serious criminal cases require the participation of three individuals: the judge, counsel for the prosecution, and counsel for the accused. If any one of these are absent from the procedure, Athe criminal justice system is [email protected] (Congress). The prosecutor stands at a critical stage in the criminal justice system as well as playing a critical role before, during and after the trial. They serve many functions throughout the criminal process. Some of which are investigating, plead bargains, questioning both jurors and witnesses, and being involved through the sentencing as well.
The first thing that must be understood is that the duty of the prosecutor is to seek justice, not merely to convict. It is crucial that his obligation is to protect the innocent as well as to convict the guilty, to guard the rights of the accused as well as to enforce the rights of the public. The prosecutor should have the most knowledge of the work of the police in the investigation of crimes and in the enforcement of law. The prosecutor has tremendous amount of desecration as to what charges will be brought against an accused person or whether to even dismiss charges based on lack of evidence. Since his decisions account for a large share of cases that are taken into the courts, Athe character, quality and efficiency of the whole system is shaped in great measure by the manner in which he exercises his broad discretionary [email protected] (Britanica).
Like other lawyers, the prosecutor is subject to disciplinary actions for conduct that is prohibited by Acodes and [email protected] (Matrix). These Acodes and [email protected] are intended to assist and advise the prosecutor.
The majority of the prosecutor=s work load consists of cases which a complaint was either files by a citizen or by following an arrest made by the police. But there are instances where a citizen is unwilling to prosecute. It is important that, under these circumstances, the prosecutor investigate criminal acts on his own Ainitiative and independent of citizen complaints or police [email protected] (Congress). AMost prosecutors express willingness to accept this responsibility, provided they have adequate investigative [email protected] (Congress).
It is essential that a guilty plea is entered not only voluntarily, but understandingly as well. A plea entered Aas a result of a prosecutor=s promising concessions beyond his power to [email protected] (Matrix) is involuntary and the defendant Ais entitled to withdrawal [email protected] (Matrix). It is therefore important that the prosecutor make it clear to the accused that he is not able Ato assure the judicial [email protected] (Matrix) of a guilty plea. AWhen some but not all charges against a [email protected] are dropped due to the plea of guilt to one or more other charges, the prosecutor should note that this is the basis of the guilty plea. The prosecutor should also note the participation and approval of both the defendant and his counsel.
The process of examining prospective jurors (voir dire) is designed to give the counsel an opportunity to determine if each juror is able to make a decision on the case fairly and without bias. Regrettably, voir dire is often abused by lawyers. ARecognizing the [email protected] of these abuses, it has been recommended that the questioning of jurors should Abe done by the judge allowing counsel to make reasonable inquiry subject to the control of the [email protected] (Britanica).
Another important function of the prosecutor is his responsibility to present evidence in court. It is unethical behavior for a prosecutor to knowingly offer false evidence, Awhether by documents, tangible evidence, or the testimony of [email protected] (Matrix). It is also unprofessional for a prosecutor to present evidence which is know to be tainted for mere sake of presenting it in plain view of Athe judge or jury which would tend to prejudice fair consideration by the judge or [email protected] (Matrix).
Another important part of the prosecutors function is the questioning of witnesses. The prosecutor should avoid Adiscrediting or undermining a [email protected] if he knows the witness is testifying truthfully (Congress). Also, when a witness has claimed the fifth amendment (self incrimination), courts inform jurors Afrom drawing evidentiary inferences from the fact that a witness has claimed a [email protected] (Congress). Most courts condemn questions which attempt to give impressions which are negative Awhen the questioner has no evidence to support the [email protected] (Matrix). For example, AHave you ever been convicted of the crime of [email protected]
Lastly, the prosecutor will at times Aneed to urge the courts to take a stronger stand in [email protected] (Congress). But it is important to realize that the prosecutor is there to see that justice is fairly served and not to Ameasure his effectiveness by the severity of the sentences impose in the cases he [email protected] (Congress). This can be achieved if the prosecutor will not imply to the public that his success should be measured by these Aseverity of [email protected]
The prosecutor should remember that through out all things, justice should be served. Even though they serve various functions through the course of the criminal process, such as investigating criminal acts, plea bargaining, questioning jurors (voir dire), questioning witnesses, and participation in the sentencing phase, they should realize that a persons life and reputation are stake. Even more importantly, the innocent is convicted, the guilty is also set free.
Library of Congress. gopher://marvel.loc.gov
Matrix of Birmingham. telnet://220.127.116.11
Britanica Online. http://www.eb.com:180/
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