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State and Federal Criminal Defense Representation

The Main Differences Between Defense Lawyers and Prosecutors


In criminal defense proceedings, the sides of the case are represented by a criminal defense attorney and the prosecution. If someone is charged with a crime in California, then the prosecution represents the state in trying to prove the particulars of the crime in order to ensure that the accused faces the appropriate consequences for their misdeeds. Meanwhile, it is the defense attorney’s job to represent the accused defendant in trial and help prove their innocence or otherwise seek reduced punishments in sentencing.

If you are charged by law enforcement with a crime, your ally is your criminal defense legal team. The prosecution will be working with and on behalf of the police, other state agencies, and potential victims in the case.

Is There a Difference Between Prosecutors and District Attorneys?

A district attorney is a prosecutor. But a prosecutor is not always a district attorney. In California, prosecutors work for the state on different levels and come with different titles.

A prosecutor at the state level is an Attorney General. A prosecutor working at the county level is a District Attorney. A prosecutor working at a city level may be referred to as a City Attorney.

If, for example, your case is being tried against you by a district attorney, then that DA is the prosecutor of your case.

Who Has the Burden of Proof in a Defense Trial?

In the United States of America, the accused is innocent until proven guilty. Therefore, typically, the ‘burden of proof’ falls to the prosecution. In the trial, via evidence and witness testimony, the prosecutorial staff must prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.

The criminal defense attorney does not have the same burden. Their job is to establish reasonable doubt. While it would be ideal for a criminal defense lawyer to prove innocence, the law does not require this. Again, you are innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.

Are There Benefits to Hiring Former Prosecutors as Your Criminal Defense Legal Representation?

It depends. Prosecutors do not typically have the same experience representing clients’ needs or cross-examining witnesses that criminal defense attorneys have. Also, while prosecutors have experience in the courtroom for defense cases, a defense attorney may also represent their clients in civil proceedings, granting them a deeper, more personal perspective of the human at the heart of the case.

Prosecutors usually build relationships with law enforcement. Sometimes these relationships with officers can be beneficial to defendants. But more often, there can be a fear that lawyers who, only until recently served as prosecutors for the state may have mixed up loyalties. Contact our law firm at (949) 990-4195 for legal assistance today.

The post The Main Differences Between Defense Lawyers and Prosecutors appeared first on Law Office of Diane C. Bass, A Professional Law Corporation.