What Does a State Prosecutor Do?

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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: Shereen Skola
  • Last Modified Date: 02 November 2019
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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.

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.

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.


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.

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.


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