Q: Who is a prosecutor?
A: The prosecutor is a lawyer who, on behalf of the government, first decides whether or not to charge a person with a crime. If that decision is yes, the prosecutor then conducts legal proceedings against that defendant. Prosecutors sometimes are called city attorneys, county attorneys, state’s attorneys or district attorneys (or D.A.s).
Q: So, how does a district attorney decide whether to charge a person with a crime?
A: First, the D.A. (or other prosecutor) reviews the case to ensure it is legally sound. Often, a prosecutor bases his/her initial decision on the police reports (also called arrest reports) sent to them by the arresting law enforcement officers. These reports encapsulate the events that led up to the arrest, and provide such information as the:
- Date, time, location and weather at the time of the arrest
- Witnesses’ names, addresses and possibly their statements.
These reports are typically one-sided, outlining what law enforcement claims took place, and including only the witness statements that support their theory.
If the prosecutor deems that the case has legal problems, such as the police violated the defendant’s constitutional rights or destroyed evidence critical to the defense, the case could be thrown out of court.
Second, the prosecutor decides if there is ample and reliable evidence to prove a person’s guilt. If the evidence is not very convincing, it would not be worth the time and expense of a trial.
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Colorado Criminal Defense Lawyer Shaun Kaufman
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