The Role of the Prosecutor: What Defendants Need to Know

Many defendants want to know: what exactly does a prosecutor do in a criminal case? By the time you discuss your case with an Evansville criminal defense lawyer, the prosecution has already filed charges against you. These charges may be filed as soon as a police officer arrests you with probable cause or after an investigation.

Let us analyze the role of the prosecutor during the various stages of a criminal case, so that you understand who is leading the case against you.

1. Case Initiation

A prosecutor is the representative of the state in cases involving an individual who broke state or federal laws. In the context we are discussing here, we will present the activity of a prosecutor representing the State of Indiana.

Prosecutors rarely initiate a criminal case. Rather, they are involved in the process of screening various cases presented by police officers. In complex situations, the prosecutor will conduct investigations to obtain the necessary evidence to file charges.

2. Filing Criminal Charges (Indictment)

When the prosecutor has sufficient evidence, they will file criminal charges against a defendant. The prosecutor must present clear and convincing evidence that there is reasonable cause to initiate a criminal case against a person.

Often, the evidence is circumstantial and an experienced attorney may find that it does not meet the criteria to be admissible in court. The lawyer may be able to get the case dismissed even before the arraignment.

This is why it is important to have legal representation as soon as possible after you receive the indictment – the formal notice of the charges against you.

3. Initial Court Hearing (Arraignment)

The first court hearing in a criminal case is the arraignment. The defendant will receive a copy of the indictment and it will be formally read out. Afterwards, the judge will ask the defendant how they plead. The options are:

  • Guilty
  • Not guilty
  • Nolo contendere (no contest)

the prosecution will try to obtain a conviction in court

After your plea, the prosecutor will make bail recommendations. In most of the cases, they will ask the judge to deny bail or set a very high amount. Your criminal defense attorney will bring arguments in favor of your release on bail and recommend a reasonable amount which you may secure.

4. Subsequent Court Hearings

After the arraignment, the judge will announce the date when your criminal trial begins. From this moment onwards, the prosecutor will be pitted against your experienced Evansville criminal defense lawyer.

The role of the prosecutor at this point is to present evidence supporting the charges against you. They must be able to convince the jury beyond a reasonable doubt of your guilt.

On the other hand, your attorney will bring evidence and witnesses to prove to the jury that you are not guilty. Both the lawyer and the prosecutor have the right to examine witnesses from both parties and ask them questions.

5. Recommending Sentencing

If the jury finds the defendant guilty, the next and final step in a criminal case is pronouncing the sentence. At this point, the prosecutor will confer with the judge and make recommendations.

At the same time, the jury has the right to make recommendations, as well. The judge is not obliged to follow either the prosecutor’s or the jury’s recommendations. The actual sentence you will receive is at the sole discretion of the judge.

Hire a Skilled Evansville Criminal Defense Lawyer to Protect Your Rights!

The prosecutor is a trained and experienced professional, with an in-depth knowledge of criminal law, whose job is to secure your conviction. You will need an equally experienced and trained Evansville criminal defense lawyer to represent you throughout the criminal case.

With over 30 years of experience and 85 jury trials, Verdelski Miller is your best ally during plea deals and in the courtroom. Your skilled defender is just one phone call away – so contact us to schedule an initial free consultation at 812-247-6453!

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