Prosecutors most often represent the government in criminal cases, work closely with the police, and are considered in many ways to be the public's prosecutor. Criminal prosecutors may work for local governments, for state governments, or for the federal government.
The duties of a criminal prosecutor can be complex and varied. Consequently, it is a common practice to grade prosecutors by experience and specialization. In Utah County, for instance, there are several grades of criminal prosecutor (Criminal Prosecutor I-IV). The Attorney I is a training classification and this type of prosecutor deals with easier cases and serves in a support role to more senior prosecutors. The Attorney II classification can perform prosecutorial tasks with minimal supervision and the Attorney III class can begin to work on more difficult cases with less supervision. The Attorney IV classification is a "work leader" classification and can work on criminal prosecutions independently and assign other prosecutors to perform legal tasks and support work.
Criminal prosecutors are also responsible for fulfilling a diverse array of functions as public representatives. As a part of their screening function, they work closely with police to evaluate investigations. As a part of this evaluative function, prosecutors spend many hours reviewing files and screening police reports. They may also be active participants in a criminal investigation. They may investigate crime scenes, as well as interview police officers, victims, and witnesses. They then evaluates cases under investigation and make decisions regarding the existence, the nature, and the degree of criminal offences.
In addition to these evaluative and screening functions, criminal prosecutors are also responsible for carrying out a variety of pre-trial, trial, and post-trial duties. They represent the government at pre-trial hearings, prosecute criminal trials and argue appeals after a verdict has been entered at the trial-court level. All of these duties require a great deal of legal research and the preparation of paperwork. There are motions to be drafted and argued, legal briefs to be submitted, and highly technical appellate briefs to be researched and written. The duties of a criminal prosecutor are varied and substantial. Salaries differ depending on geographical location, but tend to range from between $55,000 and $100,000 per year.
A day in the life of a criminal prosecutor can be both fascinating and hectic (A Day in the Life, np.). A typical morning begins by collecting messages and organizing the legal files for morning court appearances. The morning court docket may involve a variety of criminal arraignments and legal motion hearings. The criminal prosecutor is well-acquainted with court personnel and typically talks with law clerks and other attorneys as clients and defendants arrive. Other times, a trial is scheduled and the prosecutor is busy prosecuting his case by examining witnesses and making arguments. Lunches tend to be brief because of the busy schedule, and this time might be used to return phone calls and read files. The afternoons might be spent meeting with police, taking a deposition of a witness, or heading back to court. The late afternoon and early evening hours