Difference Between Attorney and Prosecutor

The main difference between an attorney and a prosecutor is that an attorney is a lawyer who practices as a professional advisor or advocate in legal matters. In contrast, a prosecutor is a lawyer who determines whether to charge an individual for a crime and works to establish that person’s guilt in court.


A lawyer who represents a client in court is known as an attorney. In a civil matter, the attorney may represent the claimant or the respondent, and in a criminal case, the attorney may defend the prosecution or the defendant.

In civil or criminal disputes, attorneys provide clients with advice and representation. They offer expert counsel, draft paperwork, and show up in court to represent their clients.

Difference Between Attorney and Prosecutor
Difference Between Attorney and Prosecutor

They clarify legal concerns, counsel clients on disputes involving them, and conduct in-depth case investigations, including examination of official records like a police reports. They carefully examine the aspects of the legal system that apply to the client’s situation and look for pertinent, previously filed filings.


An attorney who defends the prosecution in court is known as a prosecutor. The Crown is represented by the prosecutor in the English legal system. The prosecutor serves “the People” in the US legal system.

A “District Attorney office” manages charges in a district under the US system. Like a senior police officer in the UK system, the prosecutor supervises criminal investigations in various European systems.

Those who work for the state are prosecutors. In all cases involving criminal charges, he speaks on behalf of the state. The prosecutor is in order of the police investigation in the US.

They are employable in municipal, state, and federal capacities. They can work in several departments of the Department of Justice, Attorney General’s Office, or District Attorney’s Office as a result.

There is a wide range of specializations available for prosecutors. They may work in drug enforcement, criminal prosecution, domestic abuse, sexual offenses appellate, or juvenile justice. Enforcement, drafting documents, research, trial litigation, and appellate litigation are among the tasks.

What is a Prosecuting Attorney?

Attorneys employed by the federal government to defend the citizens of their jurisdiction in criminal proceedings are known as prosecuting attorneys. Prosecutors in the United States collaborate with law enforcement, crime victims, and testimonies to prosecute suspects in court.

What Jobs Skills are Needed?

A good prosecutor is proficient in investigative work, writing, and speaking. They can create a strong case against an accused and are at ease in front of a jury or a judge. In addition to being experts in all facets of criminal law, prosecutors must be skilled in communicating with other parties, including the victims, defense, witnesses, judges, and law enforcement.

U.S. Attorneys

Prosecutors at the federal level are referred to as U.S. attorneys. Every federal court area in the country has a U.S. attorney. U.S. attorneys are appointed by the president and mostly act as administrators. Most of the trial work is done by assistant U.S. attorneys.

The chief prosecutor of the United States and the director of the Department of Law, the U.S. attorney general, oversee U.S. attorneys. Violent racism, drug smuggling, and governmental corruption are a few examples of federal laws rigorously investigated by 94 U.S. attorneys and approximately 2,000 assistant prosecutors.

Prosecutor Vs Defense Attorney

Although you have a basic idea of what defense lawyers and prosecutors specialize in, the methods used by each one are very unlike.

A prosecutor is an employee of the state. In all cases involving criminal charges, he speaks on behalf of the state. He is a lawyer who defends The People or an organization in municipal, state, or federal court when they file charges against a person or business.

A defense attorney is a prosecutor’s counterpart. An attorney who protects a person or business against criminal accusations is a defense attorney. A defense attorney may run a private firm or, if contracted by the government, represent those without the means to hire an attorney as a public defender.

Other notable differences are:


The person who files the lawsuit is the prosecutor. Therefore, it is the prosecutor’s job to bring charges against the accused. To convince the jury that the prisoner is guilty, this individual must gather data and proof to decide whether the case can be substantiated.

The defense attorney, on the contrary, is the total opposite. This team attempts to refute the prosecution’s case-in support of its evidence.


Depending on the size of the firm or corporation, the location, and the attorney’s professional level, prosecutors and defense lawyers have challenging workloads.


There are significant similarities between prosecutors and defense attorneys. For instance, they both work in the legal system and have the same education. Of all, the most crucial distinction is whom each stands for in the courts. Prosecutors and defense attorneys typically argue against each other in court as adversaries, though they sometimes may collaborate to resolve.

Can a Defense Attorney Work as a Prosecutor?

The difference between a prosecutor and a defense attorney is that a defense attorney would need to abide by a set of regulations to serve as a contract prosecutor.

A defense lawyer who previously served as a prosecutor may be restricted from taking cases in the same court where they worked. In addition, their colleagues who did not assist in the cases may also need to avoid taking defense cases in that court to avoid potential conflicts of interest based on jurisdiction. It’s important for defense lawyers to be aware of these restrictions and consult with an ethics expert if necessary to ensure compliance with professional and legal standards.

We use the word “may” because different states have different conflict resolution laws.

Additionally, the contract prosecutor may have to decline criminal defense cases where the primary law enforcement body that supports the court that the contract prosecution also supports is involved.

It can be challenging to cross-examine the same agent the following week in a defensive case in a different court after calling him for cross-questioning as a prosecutor.

See Also How To Convince Prosecutor To Drop Charges

The contractual prosecutor must consent to keep his records in this office (both paper and digitally) to prevent the sharing of evidence/files with other employees who might use them against him in court.

To prevent file mixing or ethical issues, contract prosecutors occasionally take up a second office in the property owned or maintained by the government entity.

Additionally, he might have his phones, email addresses, and even support employees.

Prosecutor vs Criminal Defense Lawyer

You might not be familiar with all the participants in a courtroom if you have never related to the authorities or been thought to be suspected of a crime. The prosecutor, as well as the criminal defense attorney are the two jobs that cause people the most confusion.

A prosecutor and a criminal lawyer are both attorneys who have successfully attended law school, which is the first thing to understand. Both have to be admitted as attorneys by passing the state bar test.

prosecutor vs defense attorney
Prosecutor Vs Defense Attorney
  • The prosecutor defends the interests of the state or the national government in court, whereas the criminal defense attorney represents the client facing criminal charges. Each is essentially on the opposing side of the court.
  • Another distinction is that while defense attorneys can assist clients in criminal and civil proceedings, prosecutors solely deal with criminal cases.
  • Criminal defense attorneys defend the defendant’s rights and work to persuade a jury that their client is innocent, while prosecutors try to convict those they believe have committed a crime.

Can a Lawyer Practice Both as a Prosecutor & Defense?

This is a somewhat uncommon technique. The majority of attorneys focus on either criminal defense or criminal prosecution. Additionally, most law firms primarily focus on criminal defense or private prosecution.

However, it is customary to come across attorneys like Jillian Williamson of Ross Lutz, a criminal lawyer prosecutor with experience as a prosecutor and criminal defense attorney.

A skilled attorney who has handled both prosecution and defense cases in the criminal justice system will be better able to protect your legal interests since they will better understand both ends of the justice system.

Former prosecutors now representing clients in court have surgeon-like talents to construct your best defense since they can predict the prosecutor’s anticipated actions so fast and deftly.

Also Read: What Is Adjudication Withheld?

Can a Prosecutor Practice as a Defense Lawyer?

Depending on his client and how he became a prosecutor, a prosecutor may or may not be able to represent a defendant.

A prosecutor is typically considered a government employee if they serve as a prosecutor full-time for a particular government agency (such as the federal government, a state, district, or city).

The prosecutor is overseen and controlled by the government, and they do not represent the defense.

However, not all prosecutors work for a government organization. In truth, many prosecutors are compensated on a contract basis to perform prosecutorial duties for a particular government agency. It may be a small government organization. This might only apply to a case that the present prosecution staff is ill-equipped to manage (such as a significant murder case).

In any case, the contract prosecution is likely to be a regular attorney practicing law in the real world with an average caseload that frequently includes clients who are in defense of criminal charges.

Are Judges Lawyers too?

Judges preside over criminal cases in all supreme courts and are legally obliged to have practiced law before becoming eligible for the position. It’s interesting to note that 22 states permit non-lawyers to preside as judges in criminal courts, which is not the norm in the rest of the nation.

It’s crucial to note that while your judge should be a lawyer in California, this requirement exists merely to ensure that she fully comprehends the law and any relevant judicial precedents.

A judge should be unbiased toward the individual being tried because they are not there to support either side of the argument. In reality, if the judge had a prior connection to the defendant, they must share this information and step aside if it would compromise their objectivity. Inaction in this regard could be construed as judicial misconduct.

See Also What Happens At An Arraignment For A Misdemeanor


What is the difference between Attorneys and Prosecutors?

A criminal defense attorney is often referred to as a lawyer in a case. He speaks for the accuser. The attorney defending the state, or the government is referred to as the attorney, on the other hand. Consequently, one may say that a case’s prosecutor and attorney reflect opposing viewpoints.

Is there a difference between a Lawyer and an Attorney?

It is helpful to remember that while all attorneys are lawyers, not all lawyers are attorneys. The main distinction is that whereas lawyers cannot represent their clients in court or any other legal processes, attorneys can.

How long does it take to become a Prosecutor?

A four-year study from a qualified university is the minimum requirement for aspiring prosecutors, who must then complete law school, which usually lasts an extra three years. Law students who want to practice as prosecutors frequently concentrate on criminal law.

Is the Prosecutor higher than the Attorney?

A prosecutor and a defense counsel have licensed attorneys who have successfully passed the bar test. A defense lawyer, however, stands up for the person the prosecution seeks to persuade the jury is guilty of.

Final Words On Attorneys & Prosecutors

Prosecutors and attorneys are two different entities, though they pass the same examination. The difference is in their work behavior and their decision on how they proceed with this occupation.

I hope that by using this article, you will get an idea of the difference between them and their work. With this knowledge, you may get an idea of what you want to hire for your case and consultation.