A prosecutor


Prosecutors represent governmental bodies and the general public in court cases against parties accused of illegal activity. They investigate the court cases by examining evidence, interviewing involved parties, and interpreting the law. They use the results of their investigation in order to present the case during court hearings, and to construct persuasive arguments in order to ensure the outcome is the most favourable for the parties they represent.

Prosecutors typically do the following tasks:

  • Review evidence and information provided by law enforcement to determine if there is enough evidence to pursue criminal charges.
  • Interview witnesses, victims, and law enforcement officers to gather additional evidence and testimonies for the case.
  • Prepare legal documents, including complaints, indictments, and charging documents, outlining the allegations against the accused.
  • Present the case in court during hearings, arraignments, and trials.
  • Call and examine witnesses and experts to testify in support of the prosecution’s case.
  • Cross-examine defense witnesses and challenge their credibility or statements.
  • Present opening statements and closing arguments to summarize the evidence and persuade the judge or jury of the defendant’s guilt.
  • Negotiate plea deals with defense attorneys, which may lead to reduced charges or sentences in exchange for a guilty plea.
  • Evaluate the strength of the evidence and the likelihood of securing a conviction before proceeding with a trial.
  • Collaborate with law enforcement agencies to coordinate investigations and gather evidence.
  • Stay up-to-date with changes in criminal law, case law, and legal procedures.
  • Ensure that the defendant’s constitutional rights are respected throughout the legal process.
  • Participate in pre-trial motions, such as suppression hearings and motions to dismiss.
  • Work with victim advocates to provide support and information to crime victims during the legal process.
  • Advise law enforcement officers on the legal aspects of investigations and evidence collection.

Other titles

The following job titles also refer to prosecutor:

crown prosecutor
public prosecutor
state attorney
prosecuting attorney

Working conditions

Prosecutors typically work in district attorney’s offices, state attorney’s offices, or national attorney’s office, depending on the jurisdiction. They spend much of their time in courtrooms, offices, and meetings with law enforcement, witnesses, and victims. The workload can be demanding, and prosecutors may work long hours, especially when preparing for trials. They may also experience stressful situations, as they handle cases involving serious crimes and victims seeking justice.

Minimum qualifications

To become a prosecutor, individuals must earn a Juris Doctor (J.D.) degree from an accredited law school and pass the bar examination in the state where they intend to practice. Many prosecutors gain practical experience by working as law clerks or in entry-level positions at a district attorney’s office. Excellent communication and trial advocacy skills are essential for effective representation in court. Prosecutors must also have a strong understanding of criminal law, rules of evidence, and constitutional protections to ensure fair and just legal proceedings.

ISCO skill level

ISCO skill level is defined as a function of the complexity and range of tasks and duties to be performed in an occupation. It is measured on a scale from 1 to 4, with 1 the lowest level and 4 the highest, by considering:

  • the nature of the work performed in an occupation in relation to the characteristic tasks and duties
  • the level of formal education required for competent performance of the tasks and duties involved and
  • the amount of informal on-the-job training and/or previous experience in a related occupation required for competent performance of these tasks and duties.

Prosecutor is a Skill level 4 occupation.

Prosecutor career path

Similar occupations

These occupations, although different, require a lot of knowledge and skills similar to prosecutor.

court jury coordinator
supreme court judge
legal consultant
justice of the peace

Essential knowledge and skills

Essential knowledge

This knowledge should be acquired through learning to fulfill the role of prosecutor.

  • Government representation: The legal and public representation methods and procedures of the government during trial cases or for communication purposes, and the specific aspects of the governmental bodies being represented in order to ensure accurate representation.
  • Legal case management: The procedures of a legal case from opening to closing, such as the documentation that needs to be prepared and handled, the people involved in different stages of the case, and the requirements that need to be met before the case can be closed.
  • Criminal law: Th legal rules, constitutions and regulations applicable for the punishement of offenders.
  • Legal research: The methods and procedures of research in legal matters, such as the regulations, and different approaches to analyses and source gathering, and the knowledge on how to adapt the research methodology to a specific case to obtain the required information.
  • Legal terminology: The special terms and phrases used in the field of law.
  • Court procedures: The regulations which are in place during the investigation of a court case and during a court hearing, and of how these events occur.

Essential skills and competences

These skills are necessary for the role of prosecutor.

  • Compile legal documents: Compile and collect legal documents from a specific case in order to aid an investigation or for a court hearing, in a manner compliant with legal regulations and ensuring records are properly maintained.
  • Analyse legal evidence: Analyse evidence, such as evidence in criminal cases, legal documentation regarding a case, or other documentation that can be regarded as evidence, in order to obtain a clear image of the case and reach resolutions.
  • Present evidence: Present evidence in a criminal or civil case to others, in a convincing and appropriate manner, in order to reach the right or most beneficial solution.
  • Present arguments persuasively: Present arguments during a negotiation or debate, or in written form, in a persuasive manner in order to obtain the most support for the case the speaker or writer represents.
  • Comply with legal regulations: Ensure you are properly informed of the legal regulations that govern a specific activity and adhere to its rules, policies and laws.
  • Present legal arguments: Present legal arguments during a court hearing or during negotiations, or in written form after a trial concerning its outcome and sentence, in order to ensure the best possible outcomes for the client or to ensure the decision is followed. Present these arguments in a manner that is compliant with regulations and guidelines and adapted to the specifications of the case.
  • Interpret law: Interpret the law during the investigation of a case in order to know the correct procedures in handling the case, the specific status of the case and the parties involved, the possible outcomes, and how to present the best arguments for the most favourable outcome.
  • Represent clients in courts: Assume the position of representation in behalf of clients in courtrooms. Present arguments and evidence in favour of the client in order to win the case.
  • Observe confidentiality: Observe the set of rules establishing the nondisclosure of information except to another authorised person.
  • Negotiate lawyer’s fee: Negotiate compensation for legal services in or out of court, such as hourly or flat-rate fees, with clients.

Optional knowledge and skills

Optional knowledge

This knowledge is sometimes, but not always, required for the role of prosecutor. However, mastering this knowledge allows you to have more opportunities for career development.

  • Law enforcement: The different organisations involved in law enforcement, as well as the laws and regulations in law enforcement procedures.
  • Contract law: The field of legal principles that govern written agreements between parties concerning the exchange of goods or services, including contractual obligations and termination.
  • Rhetoric: The art of discourse that aims at improving the ability of writers and speakers to inform, persuade or motivate their audience.
  • Civil law: The legal rules and their applications used in disputes between different parties.
  • Civil process order: The legal procedures and standards that courts follow in civil lawsuits.

Optional skills and competences

These skills and competences are sometimes, but not always, required for the role of prosecutor. However, mastering these skills and competences allows you to have more opportunities for career development.

  • Show responsibility: Accept responsibility and be accountable for professional decisions of yourself or others as part of a job or one’s role.
  • Handle evidence: Handle evidence important for a case in a manner compliant with regulations, in order to not affect the state of the evidence in question and to ensure its pristine condition and usability in the case.
  • Negotiate in legal cases: Negotiate on the client’s behalf during the treatment of a legal case in order to obtain the most beneficial outcome for the client, and to ensure that all decisions are compliant with legal regulations.
  • Protect client interests: Protect the interests and needs of a client by taking necessary actions, and researching all possibilities, to ensure that the client obtains their favoured outcome.
  • Think analytically: Produce thoughts using logic and reasoning in order to identify the strengths and weaknesses of alternative solutions, conclusions or approaches to problems.
  • Show confidence: Demonstrate degrees of maturity by fully understanding one’s own qualities and abilities which can serve as sources of confidence in different situations.
  • Document evidence: Document all evidence found on a crime scene, during an investigation, or when presented in a hearing, in a manner compliant with regulations, to ensure that no piece of evidence is left out of the case and that records are maintained.
  • Respond to enquiries: Respond to enquiries and requests for information from other organisations and members of the public.
  • Conduct research interview: Use professional researching and interviewing methods and techniques to gather relevant data, facts or information, to gain new insights and to fully comprehend the message of the interviewee.
  • Advise on legal decisions: Advise judges, or other officials in legal decision-making positions, on which decision would be right, compliant with the law and with moral considerations, or most advantageous for the adviser’s client, in a specific case.
  • Apply knowledge of human behaviour: Practice principles related to group behaviour, trends in society, and influence of societal dynamics.
  • Hear witness accounts: Hear witness accounts during a court hearing or during an investigation to assess the significance of the account, its impact on the case under scrutiny or investigation, and to aid in reaching a conclusion.
  • Provide legal advice: Provide advice to clients in order to ensure that their actions are compliant with the law, as well as most beneficial for their situation and specific case, such as providing information, documentation, or advice on the course of action for a client should they want to take legal action or legal action is taken against them.
  • Ensure law application: Ensure the laws are followed, and where they are broken, that the correct measures are taken to ensure compliance to the law and law enforcement.

ISCO group and title

2611 – Lawyers

  1. Prosecutor – ESCO
  2. What Is A Prosecutor? |
  3. Prosecutor Job Description – Betterteam
  4. Featured image: By Fiscalía General del Estado (Spain) –, CC BY-SA 4.0
Last updated on August 28, 2023