Criminal justice


There are a number types of prosecutors in the United States. Themost common are the state and the federal prosecutors. However, thereare some states which have special prosecutors. These are specialprosecutors who are tasked with dealing with various special casessuch as gang attacks and child abuse (Siegel et al., 2015). This is atype of prosecutor who can only deal with such matters alone. It isclear that these special cases may require special investigation andcollection of evidence, as well as prosecution. These type ofprosecutors are not common and are only available in a few statesacross the United States.

Prosecutorial discretion is the unlimited power that prosecutorshave which enables them either to choose to prosecute a person or notbased on the evidence that they have collected. It is useful to notethat prosecutors do not have to believe beyond reasonable doubt thata suspect indeed committed a crime, but they only depend on theavailable evidence (Siegel et al., 2015). Whereas the prosecutor mayconsult with other stakeholders, it is vital to note that the finaldecision of whether to press charges on a suspect remain theprerogative of the prosecutor. This power is what is referred to asthe prosecutorial discretion. This discretion has at times beenviewed as being immense and absolute especially where the prosecutormay have personal interests.

It is clear that when any person is given unlimited power, there isthe possibility of such power being abused or misused. It would beunfair to give prosecutors unlimited discretion. Although the trialor the appellate courts may disagree with the prosecutor on hischarges against the suspect, time and resource will have been wastedon the process of prosecuting the suspect. It is essential to giveprosecutors limited power and to ensure that the decision on whetheror not to prosecute is reached at by a group of people as opposed tothe prosecutor alone (Siegel et al., 2015). There are also instanceswhere the prosecutor may have personal interests in the prosecutionof a particular suspect. In such instances, the prosecutor, throughhis or her unlimited discretion, may press charges against a suspectwhich will amount to malice and injustice. Denying a prosecutor theunlimited discretion would ensure that the cases which haveinsufficient evidence do not reach trial or prosecutorial stages.This way, the justice system would save on time and resources.

It is possible that unlimited discretion of the prosecutor may beabused for political reasons. Politicians can use their influence orpersonal relations with the prosecutor to press charges against theiropponents (Siegel et al., 2015). However, this would be difficultwhere the decision of whether to prosecute or not is made by a groupof people who can vote based on the amount of evidence available.

Attorneys face ethical situations in their work on a daily basis. Itis clear that the attorneys are supposed to defend the law and servejustice. However, sometimes they are faced by situations wherefollowing law ends up compromising their beliefs and ethics. Oneethical situation is where an attorney is defending a killer orrapist who has confessed to him what he did. The attorney will try todefend the killer or the rapist whereas he knows that it is againsthis belief. This is an ethical situation that is extremely commonwith attorneys all across the world since they defend clients on adaily basis (Siegel et al., 2015). Clients who are factually guiltyinsist that their attorneys defend them in court and this creates anethical conflict between the defending the client and following one’sbeliefs. Attorneys are supposed to follow the law and they should notinfluenced by their personal feelings.

Another ethical situation is where a client gives the attorney astory that is consistent with a particular defense in law that theattorney described to the client. The attorney believes that thestory is a lie and the client only made it up to influence theoutcome of the case. This presents an ethical issue since theattorney will have to present falsified information in the defense ofhis client. In such situations, it is essential to follow the law andassume that the story presented by the client is indeed true. Thethird ethical dilemma that attorneys are faced with is when theyinfluence the reports written by expert witnesses so that they arenot subject to the discovery rules (Siegel et al., 2015). Theattorneys edit the reports or change them from final version to draftin order to avoid the discovery rules. This may jeopardize theoutcome of the case and it is therefore essential for the attorney toallow the expert witness to prepare the report with honesty andpresent it without any influence or editing.

Attorneys may at times withhold evidence which they do not intend toproduce at the trial not unless the prosecutor asks for it. Theattorney may hind the evidence hoping that the prosecutor will notgive specific directives that may require the piece of evidence. Itis abundantly clear that when such evidence is missing, the caseoutcome will be jeopardized. The attorney knows that he will win thecase if he withholds the evidence (Siegel et al., 2015). This is anethical dilemma which the attorney faces and it is essential tofollow the law and if the law allows withholding of unnecessaryevidence in court, it would be right for the attorney.


Siegel, L. J., Schmalleger, F., &amp Worrall, J. L. (2015). Courtsand criminal justice in America (2nd Ed.). Upper Saddle River,NJ: Pearson.