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How Do I Become a District Prosecutor?

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  • Written By: T. Carrier
  • Edited By: Susan Barwick
  • Last Modified Date: 07 December 2016
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A district prosecutor is a lawyer who tries criminal cases against individuals or groups. These lawyers are appointed by the local government in some areas but elected by the general population in others. In order to become a district prosecutor, a candidate must first meet the basic requirements for becoming a lawyer in his or her jurisdiction. Essentials typically include law school graduation and the successful passing of an examination. Certain personality characteristics and skills will benefit an individual if he or she is to become a district prosecutor.

In countries with separate states or administrative regions, one or several district prosecutors may be assigned to each. Typically, these lawyers must be citizens of the region they will be serving to become a district prosecutor. Many positions also require a formal terms of service, in which each lawyer agrees to serve for a minimum number of years. For large regions, each district prosecutor may specialize in prosecuting certain crimes, such as murder or drug offenses. In addition, several regions require that potential prosecutors complete a background check and agree to a drug test.

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A solid educational background is needed to become a district prosecutor. This process typically includes a bachelor’s degree with a diverse curriculum. Specific pre-law undergraduate programs are available in many institutions. Following completion of an undergraduate degree, future lawyers then generally attend law school. Studying and completing a comprehensive law examination such as a bar exam usually constitutes the last educational essential for lawyers.

During law school, it is helpful for students to gain experience in a law firm through internships or clerk positions. Prior experience, particularly in a prosecutor’s office, will enhance district prosecutor training. Some entry-level assistant jobs are available, and on occasion these jobs are offered via academic honors programs. These types of jobs are often the most effective and quickest means of gaining needed trial experience. In many cases, direct trial experience is required for a district prosecutor job.

The final step to becoming a district prosecutor differs by region. In the United States, for example, a local election takes place in which prospective prosecutors are determined by the voting public. Other countries, however, allow government officials to appoint district prosecutors. Depending on the country, a district prosecutor may have standing and responsibilities equal to a judge or chief police investigator.

At the applied level, a prosecutor should, ideally, be a fluent speaker and have a flair for writing, as witness questioning and composition of opening and closing statements are important district prosecutor requirements. Further, a prosecutor should be unbiased and impartial, as legal cases deal with facts and not personal feelings. Research and thorough knowledge of the law are also crucial, as is an analytical mindset. Perhaps most important, a district prosecutor should have a passion for the law and for justice, as the lives of many individuals are impacted by the outcomes of legal cases.

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