ABA Criminal Justice Standards for Prosecutors
Just like criminal defense lawyers, prosecutors must comply with a strict
set of criminal justice standards to ensure justice is served fairly and
accurately. Prosecutors are the people who work to investigate and punish
suspected criminals, as they are attorneys for the government in cases
against people who are charged with crimes.
Prosecutors play a central role in determining the course of criminal cases
and typically work to punish defendants to the fullest extent of the law.
As such, they are often painted as the “bad guys” who work
in the best interests of the government but not the accused. However,
prosecutors have legal duties to the public and must follow several criminal
justice standards to better fulfill those duties.
American Bar Association Criminal Justice Standards has guided policymakers and practitioners in the criminal justice field
and describe expectations for the prosecution function. I have compiled
five of the key general standards below:
Duty of Candor: To a certain extent, the prosecution must be open and honest to the courts
and other professional obligations and must not state facts, laws or evidence
that prosecutors do not reasonably believe are true unless for legal investigative
purposes. A prosecutor must correct other prosecutors if they believe
false facts or laws were presented as well.
No Improper Bias: Prosecutors are prohibited from being biased or prejudiced based on race,
sex, religion, national origin, political or personal considerations,
disability, age, sexual orientation, gender identity, or socioeconomic
status. Prosecutors are encouraged to identify, investigate and remove
improper biases including their implicit biases to best prevent unfair
practices and verdicts.
Awareness of Conflicts of Interest: Prosecutors must be aware of the conflicts of interest present in their
jurisdiction and factors that may cause conflicts of interest. In addition,
prosecutors should not:
- Engage in a matter that they once participated in as a non-prosecutor unless
they get informed consent from the proper government office
- Be involved in prosecuting a former client
- Negotiate for private employment with a defendant or suspect, nor their
attorney or agent, if the prosecutor is engaged on a personal and substantial
level in a given matter
- Allow their personal, political, financial, professional, business, property,
or other interests affect their professional judgment or obligations
- Recommend a defense counsel to accused people or witnesses in cases being
handled by the prosecution’s office
- Prosecute a person who is being represented by a lawyer with whom they
share a parent, child, sibling, spouse or sexual partner relationship
On the other hand, the prosecution
should do the following:
- Disclose any facts or interests to the proper officials that could potentially
raise a conflict of interest
- Promptly report to a supervisor he most obviously senseless misconduct
made against them
Appropriate Workload: The prosecutor must manage their workload so it does not get overwhelming,
complex and too large, as that could interfere with the fairness, precision
and timeliness of resolving criminal cases. The prosecutor’s office
should regularly oversee prosecutors’ workloads and request funding
or personnel as needed.
Diligence, Promptness and Punctuality: Prosecutors must act diligently and promptly when working on criminal
cases and uphold the interests of the defendant, victims and witnesses.
If there is a delay, the prosecutor must not knowingly mislead or deceive
when justifying such delay. Further, prosecutors must be punctual in attending
court, submitting motions, briefs, etc. and matters with opposing counsel
While these criminal justice standards above only account for a mere portion
of the complete list of standards, they are among the most critical. They
are well-intentioned and have helped prosecutors navigate their roles
and responsibilities in the criminal justice system but like all humans,
prosecutors are not perfect and are prone to mistakes.
We know this because
Attorney Trent Loftin is a former Tarrant County prosecutor.
As a result, we have the key insights into the other side of the courtroom
that can maximize the chances of getting your
criminal charges reduced or dropped altogether. Every client we represent depends on us
to build powerful defenses that counteract the prosecution’s anticipated
attacks in their cases. When we do so successfully, our clients enjoy
the peace of mind they have long-deserved. We hope to achieve the same
favorable outcome on your behalf.
If you would like to learn how Jerry Loftin & Associates can defend
contact the firm at (817) 429-2000!