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Defendant vs. Prosecutor: Know the Difference

Shumaila Saeed
By Shumaila Saeed || Updated on December 25, 2023
Defendant is the party against whom a lawsuit is filed. Prosecutor is the legal representative who brings charges in a criminal case.
Defendant vs. Prosecutor

Key Differences

A defendant is an individual or entity accused in a legal case, facing charges brought against them. Conversely, a prosecutor is a legal official who initiates and leads the prosecution against the defendant, representing the state or government in criminal cases.
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Nov 17, 2023
The defendant's role is to defend against the accusations, often through a lawyer, and they are presumed innocent until proven guilty. The prosecutor, on the other hand, bears the burden of proving the defendant's guilt beyond a reasonable doubt in criminal cases.
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Defendants have the right to a fair trial and legal representation, and they can challenge the evidence presented by the prosecution. Prosecutors must present credible evidence and witness testimony to establish the defendant's guilt.
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In a trial, the defendant can present their side of the story, introduce evidence, and call witnesses to support their defense. The prosecutor's objective is to demonstrate the defendant's guilt through a structured legal argument and evidence.
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While a defendant may settle or plead guilty to avoid trial, a prosecutor evaluates the strength of the case to decide whether to offer a plea deal or proceed to trial.
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Comparison Chart

Role

Accused party in a legal case
Legal official leading the prosecution
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Objective

Defend against charges
Prove guilt of the defendant
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Representation

Self or through a lawyer
Represents the state or government
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Rights

Presumed innocent, fair trial
Must prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt
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Actions

Challenge evidence, present defense
Present evidence, lead the case
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Defendant and Prosecutor Definitions

Defendant

Civil Case Party
In the lawsuit, the defendant was sued for damages.
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Prosecutor

Criminal Case Lawyer
The prosecutor argued convincingly against the defendant.
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Defendant

Criminal Case Party
The defendant faced a jury trial for the alleged crime.
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Prosecutor

Legal Accuser
The prosecutor presented new evidence in the trial.
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Defendant

Legal Respondent
The defendant's lawyer objected to the evidence.
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Prosecutor

Charge Initiator
The prosecutor decided to file charges after the investigation.
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Defendant

Accused Party
The defendant pleaded not guilty to the charges.
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Prosecutor

State Representative
The prosecutor worked for the district attorney's office.
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Defendant

The party against which an action is brought.
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Oct 19, 2023

Prosecutor

One that prosecutes.
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Defendant

Serving, or suitable, for defense; defensive, defending.
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Prosecutor

One that initiates and carries out a legal action, especially criminal proceedings.
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Defendant

(legal) In civil proceedings, the party responding to the complaint; one who is sued and called upon to make satisfaction for a wrong complained of by another.
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Prosecutor

See prosecuting attorney.
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Defendant

(legal) In criminal proceedings, the accused.
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Prosecutor

(law) a prosecuting attorney.
Annie Jay was the Wisconsin government prosecutor in the trial of a man for forging his client's signature.
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Defendant

Serving, or suitable, for defense; defensive.
With men of courage and with means defendant.
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Prosecutor

(law) a person, as a complainant, victim, or chief witness, who institutes prosecution in a criminal proceeding.
The prosecutor got the witness to admit he was lying.
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Defendant

Making defense.
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Prosecutor

One who prosecutes or carries on any purpose, plan, or business.
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Defendant

One who defends; a defender.
The rampiers and ditches which the defendants had cast up.
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Prosecutor

The person who institutes and carries on a criminal suit against another in the name of the government.
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Defendant

A person required to make answer in an action or suit; - opposed to plaintiff.
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Prosecutor

A government official who conducts criminal prosecutions on behalf of the state
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Defendant

A person or institution against whom an action is brought in a court of law; the person being sued or accused
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Prosecutor

Trial Advocate
The prosecutor cross-examined the defense witness.
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Defendant

Case Participant
The defendant awaited the judge's verdict anxiously.
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Repeatedly Asked Queries

What does a prosecutor do?

A prosecutor brings and litigates criminal charges against the defendant.
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What is a defendant?

A defendant is a person or entity accused in a legal proceeding.
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Do defendants have to testify?

Defendants are not required to testify in their defense.
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Are prosecutors always government officials?

In criminal cases, prosecutors are typically government officials.
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Is the defendant always present at trial?

Defendants are usually present, but circumstances may vary.
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What kind of cases do prosecutors handle?

Prosecutors primarily handle criminal cases.
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Do prosecutors need a law degree?

Yes, prosecutors are licensed attorneys with a law degree.
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How do prosecutors prove guilt?

Prosecutors must prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt with evidence.
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Are defendants always individuals?

Defendants can be individuals or legal entities like corporations.
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Can a defendant represent themselves?

Yes, defendants can represent themselves but often choose a lawyer.
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Can prosecutors be private lawyers?

In criminal cases, prosecutors are public officials, not private lawyers.
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What rights do defendants have?

Defendants have rights like presumption of innocence and fair trial.
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Can a prosecutor drop charges?

Yes, prosecutors can decide to drop charges in some cases.
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Can a defendant sue the prosecutor?

Generally, prosecutors have legal immunity in performing their duties.
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Can defendants appeal their cases?

Yes, defendants can appeal the court’s decision.
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What happens if a defendant is found not guilty?

If not guilty, the defendant is released from the charges.
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Is a prosecutor involved in civil cases?

Typically, prosecutors are not involved in civil cases, only criminal.
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Do prosecutors decide the verdict?

No, the verdict is decided by a judge or jury, not the prosecutor.
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Do defendants pay if found not guilty?

Not for the crime, but they may have legal costs.
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What's the difference between a prosecutor and a defense attorney?

A prosecutor argues against the defendant, while a defense attorney defends them.
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About Author
Shumaila Saeed
Written by
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed, an expert content creator with 6 years of experience, specializes in distilling complex topics into easily digestible comparisons, shining a light on the nuances that both inform and educate readers with clarity and accuracy.

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