What Does a State Prosecutor Do?

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

In the United States, a state prosecutor works for a state government to investigate certain kinds of crimes, prepare cases, and pursue them in court as a representative of the state. Work in this field requires a law degree and a valid attorney's license, along with experience in the area of prosecution. Compensation can vary, but typically includes access to some benefits such as pension plans and health care through the state government. The work usually involves travel and can require long hours.

In Maryland, the state prosecutor investigates cases of bribery involving state employees and representatives.
In Maryland, the state prosecutor investigates cases of bribery involving state employees and representatives.

Generally, the state prosecutor acts as the state's representative in criminal cases when they are brought to court. Regional prosecutors typically handle cases at the local level, but some crimes require input from the state government. The state prosecutor represents the state as the wronged party in these cases, and prosecutes the case in court with the goal of getting a conviction and jail time or other reparations.

A state prosecutor will have to talk to the media and hold press conferences.
A state prosecutor will have to talk to the media and hold press conferences.

This process typically starts with an investigation. Law enforcement officers work with the state prosecutor to develop a case that may include physical forensic evidence, witnesses, interviews, and other information. The prosecutor can determine if a crime occurred and whether enough evidence is available to bring charges that have a reasonable chance of resulting in a conviction. If this is the case, the state prosecutor can file charges in court to bring the case to trial.

State prosecutors look at evidence collected by law enforcement to get a conviction.
State prosecutors look at evidence collected by law enforcement to get a conviction.

Federal cases go to the federal prosecutor's office, but in some cases the state prosecutor will assist with the investigation, and may play a role before the full scope of the crime becomes apparent. This job requires a thorough knowledge of the law, as well as the ability to network with law enforcement and other agencies to collect information and conduct thorough investigations. The job can also require press conferences, meetings with victims, and other situations where the prosecutor needs to be able to meet with members of the public to provide information about jeopardizing ongoing cases.

Becoming a state prosecutor requires a law degree, a valid attorney's license and experience in the area of prosecution.
Becoming a state prosecutor requires a law degree, a valid attorney's license and experience in the area of prosecution.

In some states, the role of the state prosecutor is slightly different. In Maryland, this public official acts as a special investigator to look into crimes committed by state employees and representatives, such as corruption, graft, bribery, and so forth. The prosecutor creates a report and files it with the state, retaining the option to file charges against a public employee who appears to have committed a crime. Representation in criminal cases may be provided by a different office.

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a wiseGEEK researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a wiseGEEK researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

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    • In Maryland, the state prosecutor investigates cases of bribery involving state employees and representatives.
      In Maryland, the state prosecutor investigates cases of bribery involving state employees and representatives.
    • A state prosecutor will have to talk to the media and hold press conferences.
      A state prosecutor will have to talk to the media and hold press conferences.
    • State prosecutors look at evidence collected by law enforcement to get a conviction.
      State prosecutors look at evidence collected by law enforcement to get a conviction.
    • Becoming a state prosecutor requires a law degree, a valid attorney's license and experience in the area of prosecution.
      Becoming a state prosecutor requires a law degree, a valid attorney's license and experience in the area of prosecution.