How Does a Prosecutor Decide Whether or Not to File Charges?
A prosecutor is an attorney that works for state and federal government. Their job is to enforce the laws of the nation by prosecuting people that break those laws. They have to make decisions on whether there is sufficient evidence in a case to merit moving forward to get a conviction.
Factors that Determine whether to Prosecute a Case
Once the accused has been charged with a crime, the prosecutor will gather all the information to accurately make a decision to move forward with the case. They will look at the accused person’s past criminal record to see if they are in trouble with the law frequently.
They will determine whether there is enough admissible evidence to warrant a conviction in the case for the costs involved to the government. The prosecutor has to be certain that law enforcement performed their duties without violation of any civil rights laws.
Another area that the prosecution might look at is whether prosecuting the accused would place undue hardship on their family. They may look at hardships on their family from a connection to the crime. The mental condition and attitude toward authority of the accused will be considered when the prosecution is evaluating the case.
The success rate of convicting people in the past for similar crimes can be a factor in whether the prosecution decides to move forward with the case. They might look at whether prosecuting the case will be a deterrent toward others to not commit similar crimes.
The question of reasonable doubt in the prosecutor’s mind about the accused being guilty could get the charges dropped. It might sway them from risking time and money trying to prosecute the case when a jury will find them not guilty.
The prosecution’s office might be stricter on certain types of crimes that they always take to trial. There could be political ambitions on the prosecutors side to convict everyone accused of a crime to move up to a higher office in government.
Prosecuting on a Lesser Charge to Gain a Conviction
Sometimes a prosecutor will offer a plea bargain to the accused in order to get a conviction on a smaller charge. They do this when there is a large caseload on their local court system to speed up cases scheduled for court. It is still a win-win situation for both the prosecution and the legal process.
Offering the accused a plea bargain deal is usually considered for non-violent cases. People who have never been in trouble with the law are also considered for plea bargains based on the less likelihood of them becoming repeat offenders.
The prosecutor might decide to offer the accused a deal to drop the initial charge with another charge with fewer penalties. This can happen where the evidence gathered is insufficient to win the case on the original charges.
Either way a prosecutor decides to pursue a case, the court system and the laws of the nation are upheld with dignity. Everyone involved in the judicial system usually gets a fair and balanced ending to any case, which includes those accused of a crime.