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Prosecuting Attorney vs. Defense Attorney...What's the difference?

Do you know the difference between a prosecutor and a defense lawyer?

Posted on October 20, 2017 by Quibblo

Whether you were just curious, or wondering which one you should be when you grow up, we explain the differences and similarities between prosecutors and defense attorneys.

What does a prosecutor do?

Prosecutors charge suspects with crimes and then attempt to convict them in court. Prosecuting attorneys file charges against accused individials or corporations. This type of lawyer makes between $50,000 and $250,000 per year depending on their experience and what level of court they work in (city, district, or state).

Prosecutors cannot exceed 150 felonies per year or 300 misdemeanors per year.

Famous Prosecuting Attorneys: Andrew Jackson, John Kerry

What does a defense attorney do?

Defense attorneys defend their client, who the prosecutor is trying to charge for a crime. Defense attorneys represent their clients if they are accused of a crime. These lawyers make between $40,000 and $200,000 per year on average, depending on if they practice alone or with a firm.

Defense attorneys (public defenders) are limited to 150 felonies and 400 misdemeanor cases per year.

Famous Defense Attorneys: Robert Shapiro, Robert Kardashian, Atticus Finch (from To Kill A Mockingbird), Ally McBeal

What do prosecutors and defense attorneys have in common?

Both lawyers have to complete the same schooling, four-year undergraduate degree and three years of law school, to get a juris doctorate. They each have to study contracts, civil procedure, legal writing and the constitution. They then have to pass the Bar exam to practice law. Either lawyer can work for an individual or the government.

Depending on which state a lawyer practices in, they may have to maintain their legal education every year by attending classes.


There are two types of lawyers in a courtroom. One is trying to prove that the accused criminal is guilty, and the other is trying to prove the same person innocent. Which lawyer would you be? Depending on what your skills are and how you think, you may get a different result.

Quiz: Do you have the mindset of a prosecutor or defense attorney?


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