Prosecutor

He who prosecutes another for a crime in the name of the government is a prosecutor (Black’s Law Dictionary).

The Prosecutor’s Office is not part of the court staff. The Prosecutor’s Office is part of the executive branch of government, and is independent from the court (Lehi Court).

Example Sentence

Mr. Smith is a state prosecutor.

Case Study

In the case State v. Miller, in addition to the Haymonds’ civil claims, the State prosecutor brought a criminal action against Miller for his role in the accident. The State charged Miller with automobile homicide, a second degree felony, possession or use of a controlled substance, a third degree felony, and driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, a class B misdemeanor. In October of 2005 and after the preliminary hearing, Miller pleaded guilty to third degree felony automobile homicide and attempted illegal possession or use of a controlled substance, a class A misdemeanor.

The trial court sentenced Miller to thirty-six months of probation, 365 days in jail, and fined Miller a total of $1900.

Other Important Information

• Civil responsibilities of public prosecutors

As defined by Title 17-18a-405 of the Utah Code, a public prosecutor may act as legal counsel to the state, county, government agency, or government entity regarding the following matters of civil law:

  1. bail bond forfeiture actions;
  2. actions for the forfeiture of property or contraband, as provided in Title 24, Chapter 1, Utah Uniform Forfeiture Procedures Act;
  3. civil actions incidental to or appropriate to supplement a public prosecutor’s duties, including an injunction, a habeas corpus, a declaratory action, or an extraordinary writ action, in which the interests of the state may be affected; and
  4. any other civil duties related to criminal prosecution that are otherwise provided by statute.

• Standards of Professionalism and Civility of Rule

There are expected behaviors from lawyers and this is found in Article 3. Standards of Professionalism and Civility of Rule 14-301.

Lawyers are required at all times to show personal courtesy and professional integrity. They are also required to show commitment to the rule of law as the foundation for a just and peaceful society. Conducts that are uncivil, abrasive, abusive, hostile, or obstructive impedes the fundamental goal of resolving disputes rationally, peacefully, and efficiently and therefore should be avoided by lawyers.

Functions of the Public Prosecutor’s Office

The Public Prosecutor’s Office shall:

  1. Supervise activities of inquiry institutions and operative activities of other institutions;
  2. Organize, conduct and perform pre-trial investigation;
  3. Initiate and carry out criminal prosecution;
  4. Prosecute on behalf of the State;
  5. Supervise implementation of penalties;
  6. Protect rights and lawful interests of persons and the State in accordance with procedures established by law;
  7. Submit claims and applications to courts in cases stipulated by law;
  8. Take part in court review of cases when required by law.

Special Responsibilities of a Prosecutor (Rule 3.8)

The prosecutor in a criminal case shall:

  1. Refrain from prosecuting a charge that she knows is not supported by probable cause;
  2. Make reasonable efforts to ensure that the accused has been advised of the right to and the procedure for obtaining, counsel and has been given reasonable opportunity to obtain counsel;
  3. Not seek to obtain from an unrepresented accused a waiver of important pretrial rights, such as the right to a preliminary hearing;
  4. Make timely disclosure to the defense of all evidence or information known to the prosecutor that tends to negate the guilt of the accused or mitigates the offense, and, in connection with sentencing, disclose to the defense all unprivileged mitigating information known to the prosecutor, except when the prosecutor is relieved of this responsibility by a protective order of the tribunal; and
  5. Exercise reasonable care to prevent investigators, law enforcement personnel, employees or other persons assisting or associated with the prosecutor in a criminal case from making an extrajudicial statement that the prosecutor would be prohibited from making under Rule 3.6.

Photo courtesy of Christensen & Hymas.

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