Prosecuting Attorney's Office

The term prosecutor is one of several names used by states while prosecuting criminal cases on behalf of the people. Other titles include district attorney, state's attorney, and solicitor. In many jurisdictions, the prosecutor is not limited to criminal matters and may make appearances in civil matters as well as paternity and child support enforcement cases.

Because only a small portion of the work occurs in the courtroom, the Prosecutor requires a great deal of flexibility and variety in the kinds of space needed. In addition to the general office activities, attorneys need to be able to interview witnesses and police officers, conduct legal research, maintain case files, conduct investigations, prepare written reports and documents, and prepare for court appearances. These activities require reception and waiting areas, interview rooms, record storage areas, clerical offices, private attorney offices, conference rooms, library, mail sorting and clerical workrooms, supply and equipment storage areas, staff lounge, forensic services, and library.

The Prosecutor’s Office should project an image compatible with that of a private law firm and should be comparable to that of the judges.

There should be a reception and waiting area where visitors may be received and wait. Excessive noise from office and clerical spaces should be screened from the reception area. Approximately 20 square feet per visitor should be adequate. The space should be furnished with chairs. The receptionist should be separated from the public waiting area by a security window and should control all access to the private work areas.

The prosecutor’s private office should have a small reception area, space for a personal secretary, and a conference room or area in which to meet and hold small meetings. The prosecutor's personal office space should be approximately 250 to 400 square feet.

Assistant prosecutors (trial attorneys) should have private offices that accommodate two to three visitors and are located in areas removed from the noise and traffic of the main office. A typical attorney's office should be 120 to 150 square feet.

Clerical support is usually provided in a central location. Clerical workstations consist of a desk with personal computer, video display monitor, printer, telephone, and other office equipment. Space for filing a cabinet and maybe a side chair also is needed. Approximately 64-80 square feet should be sufficient. Clerical support should be located close to the attorneys.

In a small office, secretarial support might best be located together in a central area. In large offices, support staff may be assigned to a team of attorneys and dispersed into several work clusters. Clerical support should have convenient access to a copy area with worktables and supply and equipment storage areas.

Law clerks, interns, and temporary staff may use semi-private offices or open workstations. Offices should be near clerical support.

Investigators may require private offices due to the confidential nature of their work, or two or three may share an over-sized office and use an interview room when private conversations are necessary.

Paralegals could also work in either a private or semiprivate environment. Most clerical staff may use partitioned work stations.

Additional spaces generally include a law library, trial preparation workroom, staff conference room, interview rooms, evidence storage room, adequate file and storage areas, copier area, staff restrooms, and break area.

The prosecutor's office should be well removed from the main entrance of the courthouse to provide a quiet and secure working environment. The atmosphere should be that of a private law office, with appropriate lighting and finishes.

All areas of the prosecutor's office should be accessible to persons with disabilities.

The prosecutor's office should be located near the courtrooms, law library, or clerk of court's office and be accessible from the building main public entry by means of public circulation. The office should not be located near the public defender if a public defender is in the building to avoid the mixing of victims, defendants, and witnesses. Within the offices, there should be a semi-private circulation pattern connecting spaces used by the attorneys and staff. The prosecutor and trial attorneys should access the courtrooms through the building's main public circulation. They should not have access to the court’s private circulation system unless escorted.

In some jurisdictions, it is necessary to locate the prosecutor's office outside the courthouse due to space limitations. If so, the office should be within short walking distance from the courthouse. If possible, a small "field office" or workroom should be dedicated to the prosecuting attorney's office. This will give assistant attorneys a private area in which to work on cases due in court that day and complete necessary phone calls and paperwork without having to return to the main office.

The prosecutor's office should be accessible through the courthouse's public circulation.

Because of the adversarial nature of the work of the prosecutor's office, security requires particular attention. The reception/public-waiting area should be separate from the staff work area and access to the private work space should be controlled by a receptionist by means of a secured door. The receptionist should be separated from the public receiving area by a security window. Duress alarms should be located at the public reception window so that the receptionist may signal central security in case of trouble.

A special need of the prosecutor is the secure storage of evidence. Access to evidence storage areas should be restricted in order to maintain the chain of custody, and storage areas should be equipped with metal shelving and tamper proof doors with locks.

The prosecutor's private office should be furnished with a large desk, bookshelves, four to five chairs, small work or conference table, coat closet, and possibly a toilet.

Assistant attorney offices should be furnished with a desk, credenza, bookcase, several chairs, and a filing cabinet. Equipment will include a personal computer with keyboard and video display monitor, telephone, and printer.

The reception area should be furnished with several chairs and small table. The receptionist should have a desk with personal computer, printer, and display monitor. Space may be provided for a filing cabinet.

It should be assumed that every work station, or office, will require a computer workstation with video display monitor(s), a printer, and document scanner. Many workstations will require dual monitors. Other devices that may need to be accommodated include telephone, phone chargers, battery chargers, and computer tablets. Each workstation will require a minimum of two quadriplex electrical outlets and one dedicated computer power receptacle, two data jacks and one phone jack (3 CAT6 lines). Specialized workstations may require additional electrical outlets. Because of the heat generated by electrical equipment, steps should be taken to ensure that equipment is cooled. Plans should include room for considerable growth in electrical demand.