Defence Lawyer vs Prosecutor: The Debate Explained

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Defence Lawyer vs Prosecutor

There is a unique reason behind our liking towards a crime thriller. The podcasts, documentaries, movies, and TV shows always manage to catch our interest with the twisted story and courtroom drama. We love a good debate and a verbal fight between the defencelawyer and the prosecutor.

By now, you must have already realized that the two sides we see in a courtroom legal matter are different from one another. On the one hand, we have the defence lawyer, and on the other, there are the prosecutors. Whatever heated debate we see in Court is a defence lawyer vs prosecutor war.

So, what exactly are the definitive differences between them? And, what sets them apart from each other?

Difference Between a Defense Lawyer and a Prosecutor

Both a defence lawyer and a prosecutor are lawyers who have passed the bar exam. However, many differences set them apart from each other. Before we dive into the match of defence lawyer vs prosecutor, we need to understand the definitions properly.

Defence lawyer Definition:

The definition is almost exactly what the word sounds as. A lawyer who represents the alleged criminal is called a defence lawyer. These lawyers regularly represent defendants on whom criminal, fraud, or insurance charges are brought.

Who is a Procecutor?

A prosecutor is someone who conducts legal procedures against the alleged or the defendant. So, a prosecutor will fight against a defence lawyer in the criminal Court.

Defence lawyer vs Prosecutor in the Court

As the definition suggests, a prosecutor tries to ensure the guilt of an alleged criminal. A defence lawyer defends the alleged criminal. Moreover, a prosecutor intends to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.

On the other hand, a defence lawyer attempts to create that reasonable doubt to prove his/her client’s innocence.

However, when the judge decides on the guilt of the defendant, both the prosecutor and defence lawyer work together in negotiating a maximum sentence.

In the following section, we will dive into a detailed concept of defence lawyer vs prosecutor.

Things That Create Differences between Defense Lawyers and Prosecutors

Their required qualification

Just like any other lawyer, both a defence lawyer and a prosecutor need to have a four-year undergrad degree, and three years of law school to get a Juris Doctor Degree. Both need to pass the bar examination to start their practice in Court.

However, their differences start with their activities in Court. The side they choose in a legal courtroom activity defines their type.

The job role

A prosecutor’s job is to accumulate evidence and a strong case against the defendant to prove the crime. However, a criminal defence lawyer does the exact opposite. A defence lawyer’s job is to gather all possible evidence in favour of the defendant.

The lawyer represents the alleged criminal and works on to present a strong case to clear all the allegations.

Sector working in

One of the major differences between the two types of lawyers is in the sector they work in. A prosecutor is allowed to work in criminal cases only.

However, a defence lawyer can work in both criminal and civil cases. In civil cases, a plaintiff can file a case against a defendant. A criminal defence lawyer can represent the defendant in such civil manners as well.

Appointment person

A district lawyer appoints a prosecutor. Prosecutors represent the office of a district lawyer, where the public money funds the office.

For criminal defence lawyers, they can be either public or private lawyers. A public defence lawyer is appointed by the Court, whereas the defendant cannot pay private criminal defence lawyer fees.

The Processing of a Case

The prosecution

When a person commits a serious crime and is arrested, his/her case goes to Court. All the evidence collected against the alleged criminal travels to the office of the district lawyer. The prosecutor in a district lawyer’s office will look into the files and decide on the criminal charges.

There is a misconception about the prosecution procedure. People think that a prosecutor represents the victims of a crime, which is not exactly the scenario. A prosecutor represents the justice system of a country and is responsible for serving justice and the public.

Under the common law, any defendant is innocent unless and until proven guilty. So, the prosecutor’s job in the process of a case is to prove enough evidence so that there is not a single shred of reasonable doubt. From the prosecutor’s point of view, there can be no other possible conclusion except to decide the guilt of the defendant.

The defence

When the criminal case reaches the Court, the defendant is permitted to appoint a private criminal defence lawyer. If the defendant fails to do that, the Court will select a public criminal defence lawyer to fight on behalf of the defendant.

One of the first things a defence lawyer is intended to do is to file a motion for discovery. Under this motion, the prosecutor is obliged to turn over all sorts of evidence gathered against the defendant. The lawyer will judge the pieces of evidence and start working on the case.

If the defendant is guilty, the defence lawyer will, in most cases, suggest a plea deal. Under a plea deal, the defendant accepts all the charges, and the defence lawyer can negotiate in a minimum sentence of punishment.

Criminal Defence Lawyer Fees

Lawyers can charge either a flat fee or hourly rate depending on your type of case. The flat fee can range from a thousand dollars to $40,000, depending on the seriousness of the case.

On the other hand, different cases will lead to a variety in the amount charged hourly. In a felony case, the hourly cost is around $300 per hour. However, the rate can decrease or increase in regular misdemeanour or drug possession cases.

A criminal defence lawyer fees can depend on a few things. First of all, the investigation and witness acquiring procedures impact the fee of a criminal defence lawyer. The more work there is, the more will be the cost. Secondly, there are other several factors, such as:

  • Placement of the trial of the case
  • Is it a flat fee or hourly rate?
  • Skills and experience of the defence lawyer
  • Seriousness the criminal charges
  • The complexity of the criminal case


It is always thrilling to watch a match of defence lawyer vs prosecutor in movies or courtrooms. Even if you are caught in between such a situation in real life, it is always helpful to know about the differences between them. Although they have many similarities, their job role usually sets them apart.