What happens when a prosecutor violates ethics rules?

Prosecutors in Florida are bound by the same rules of conduct that all attorneys must follow, as established by the Florida State Bar Association. That means they can also be disciplined, as are other attorneys who break those rules. Disciplines can range from private and public reprimands to permanent disbarment from practicing law. Even more harmful may be the cases they prosecuted and whether those cases are subject to reversal on appeal, should their conduct have contributed to denying the right of due process to defendants.

Looking at cases over a range of time dating back to 1970, The Center for Public Integrity finds that prosecutors have been disciplined for a variety of violations, just as their defense-oriented counterparts have been. Prosecutors have committed crimes, including drug possession and forgery, and in states where they are allowed to have a private practice on the side, they have also been disciplined for conflicts of interest in certain cases. Here’s a look at the types of misconduct found:

  • Violating discovery rules
  • Behaving improperly in court
  • Prosecuting cases without probable cause
  • Using evidence that is wrong or misleading
  • Being unprepared and incompletely fulfilling duties
  • Inappropriately contacting jurors, witnesses, judges and defendants
  • Improperly making public statements regarding a pending case

Categorizing a total of 44 cases investigated by state bar authorities, the center finds:

  • In 1 case, the prosecutor received probation
  • In 2 cases, authorities disbarred prosecutors
  • In 3, the cases were remanded for additional proceedings
  • In 7, the complaint was dismissed or no punishment was imposed
  • In 12, authorities suspended prosecutors’ license to practice law
  • In 24, costs of the proceedings were assessed to the prosecutor

This information is only from cases in which the center considers that misconduct affected the fairness of criminal cases or infringed on defendants’ constitutional rights.

This article is informational only. It is not meant to be, nor should it be, considered legal advice.

No Comments

Leave a comment
Comment Information
Email us for a response

Tell Us About Your Case

Bold labels are required.

Contact Information

The use of the Internet or this form for communication with the firm or any individual member of the firm does not establish an attorney-client relationship. Confidential or time-sensitive information should not be sent through this form.


Privacy Policy



Jacksonville Office
1300 Riverplace Boulevard
Suite 401
Jacksonville, FL 32207

Toll Free: 866-542-1996
Phone: 904-396-1996
Fax: 904-396-1991
Map & Directions

Miami Office
1395 Brickell Avenue
Suite 800
Miami, FL 33131

Phone: 305-200-8674
Phone: 305-200-8675
Fax: 305-200-8801
Map & Directions

West Palm Beach - By Appointment Only
301 Clematis Street
Suite 300
West Palm Beach, FL 33401

Phone: 561-832-5991
Fax: 561-832-5985
Map & Directions

Panama City Office
305 Cherry Street
Panama City, FL 32401

Phone: 850-481-1386
Fax: 850-640-1247
Map & Directions

Tampa Office
10150 Highland Manor Drive
Suite 200
Tampa, FL 33610

Fax: 813-314-2163
Map & Directions