Defence Lawyer Vs Prosecutor: Who Does What?

February 24, 2023


The roles of a defence lawyer and prosecutor in Canada’s criminal justice system are critical in ensuring justice is served. However, if you’ve never been to court, you may be unaware of the roles of these legal professionals. If you get most of your legal knowledge from television or movies, as many people do, you probably don’t know about each position’s specific roles and responsibilities.

For many reasons, understanding the roles that everyone plays in our legal system, from the best criminal defence lawyers and prosecutors to judges and more, is essential. In this blog post, we will examine the roles of a defence lawyer and prosecutor in Canadian law and how they work together to navigate the legal system.

Defence Lawyer: Representing The Accused

A defence lawyer is a legal professional who represents an accused person in a criminal trial. A defence lawyer’s criminal law practice areas may include but are not limited to, drug offences, white-collar crimes, domestic violence, sexual assault, and murder.

The primary role of a defence lawyer is to advocate for the accused’s rights and interests and to ensure a fair trial. At trial, a defence lawyer must:

  • Examine the evidence presented by the prosecution;
  • Consider the significance or relevance of that evidence; and
  • Investigate alternative interpretations

A defence lawyer also works with the prosecution to negotiate plea bargains or alternative sentences to secure a more favourable outcome for the accused. A defence lawyer also advises the accused about the legal process, the potential consequences of a conviction, and their legal rights.

The Prosecutor: Representing The Crown

In Canada, the prosecutor, also known as the Crown counsel, is a legal professional representing the government in criminal trials. The prosecutor’s primary responsibility is to prove the accused’s guilt beyond a reasonable doubt in court by presenting evidence, summoning witnesses, and arguing the case.

The prosecutor must also ensure that the charged receives a fair trial and that the victim’s and the public’s rights are protected. The prosecutor prepares the case by:

  • Investigating the law
  • Gathering and reviewing evidence exhibits, preparing court paperwork
  • Witness interviews

The prosecutor investigates and gathers evidence to build a strong case against the accused. They will also review and evaluate the evidence gathered by the police and determine which evidence will be most effective in proving the guilt of the accused.

It’s important to note that the prosecutor’s role differs from that of the police, who are in charge of investigating and gathering evidence. It also differs from that of the judge, who presides over the trial and makes the final decision. But in the criminal justice system, they all work together to ensure justice is served.

Also read: All You Need To Know About Your Right To Counsel In Canada

A Defence Lawyer And Prosecutors Roles In A Criminal Trial

In a criminal trial, the roles of a defence lawyer and prosecutor are distinct but intertwined. The defence lawyer represents the accused and is responsible for constructing a solid defence case and advocating for the accused’s rights and interests. On the other hand, the prosecutor represents the government and is responsible for proving the accused’s guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.

The defence lawyer will present evidence and call witnesses to support the client’s innocence during the trial. They will also cross-examine prosecution witnesses to undermine the prosecution’s case. Ultimately, the defence lawyer’s goal is to raise reasonable doubt in the minds of the jury or judge, which may result in an acquittal.

Conversely, the prosecutor will present evidence and call witnesses to prove the accused’s guilt. They will also make opening and closing statements, outlining the evidence and arguments that support the prosecution’s case. The prosecutor’s goal is to persuade the jury or judge that the accused is guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

The defence lawyer and the prosecutor will make legal arguments and cite relevant laws and precedents to support their case. It’s worth noting that the judge is critical in ensuring that the trial is fair and that the accused’s rights are protected. The judge will make decisions on legal motions and objections and instruct the jury on the law.

About Slaferek Law

Drawing from our decades of experience and incomparable grip over provincial and federal laws, we stand as Edmonton’s most sought-after criminal defence lawyers. We focus on criminal law, practising ethical, effective, and efficient solutions to serve the best interests of our clients. Learn more about Slaferek Law and our legal services.

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