How does a prosecutor decide which charges to bring?

by Mike on September 10, 2017

How does a prosecutor decide which charges to bring?

Just because someone is arrested on suspicion of a crime, this does not mean that they will actually be charged with that crime. The police arrest a suspect based on probable cause. This means that it’s reasonable for them to believe that a crime has been committed and that the suspect could be involved. When it comes to deciding whether to prosecute, the prosecutor has to decide whether there is sufficient evidence for the suspect to be found guilty beyond reasonable doubt. This difference is the reason why so many people are arrested but never brought to court.

The separation of these two parts of the justice process prevents the potential abuse of police powers in determining whether a suspect should be prosecuted.

What happens after an arrest is made?

Any police officer has to complete an arrest report when they make an arrest. This report contains detailed information about the arrest, including the time and date that it took place, and what type of evidence is held. The arrest report is sent to the prosecutor to study.

The prosecutor reads the report, and considers the evidence that is held. It’s their job to decide whether there is sufficient evidence to suggest that a reasonable person could find the accused guilty. If the evidence is found to be weak, the prosecutor will usually decide not to prosecute. This does not necessarily mean that the police were wrong to make the arrest. It just means that there are holes or weaknesses in the evidence.

What other factors can affect the prosecutor’s decision?

It’s important to remember that the prosecutor is an elected official. They often want to solidify or enhance their position. This means that their decision as to whether to prosecute a case can be swayed by the political climate at the time.

If you are being prosecuted for a crime in California, you need to seek legal help. It’s a good idea to speak to   an experienced Los Angeles or San Diego criminal attorney. They will understand the political climate, and be aware of the best way to negotiate with the prosecutor regarding your case. Just because the prosecutor feels they have to make a decision to prosecute does not mean they will not be willing to strike a deal.

You can see why the decision to prosecute is kept separate from the decision to arrest, and hopefully you have a better understanding of why arrest does not necessarily lead to prosecution. The decision about whether or not to prosecute is normally based around the police report and the evidence that is held. But, it’s possible for other factors, such as public opinion, to influence the final decision. This is why it’s so important to hire an experienced attorney, if you are being prosecuted. They can put their experience to use in navigating a difficult political environment that may otherwise prove problematic to deal with.


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