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N Cal Attorney
N Cal Attorney, Lawyer
Category: Criminal Law
Satisfied Customers: 9339
Experience:  Since 1983
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what considerations might legitimately factor into a decision

Customer Question

what considerations might legitimately factor into a decision to charge an indivual with a crime? What considerations should be excluded from this exercise of discretion?
Submitted: 7 years ago.
Category: Criminal Law
Expert:  N Cal Attorney replied 7 years ago.
The DA is supposed to charge only those crimes he honestly believe he can convict a person of, beyond a reasonable doubt, based on evidence in his possession at the time the charge is filed.

The seriousness of the crimes and the age of the defendant may be relevant to some extent. Assuming the DA has limited resources and cannot prosecute every single case that he could charge, you would expect him to charge the more serious cases and maybe let petty misdemeanors fall by the wayside.

The DA should not consider who the defendant is or knows socially and the charging decisions should not be based on politics, just on evidence.

The ABA Model Code, at states:
DR 7-103 -Performing the Duty of Public Prosecutor or Other Government Lawyer.
(A) -A public prosecutor or other government lawyer shall not institute or cause to be instituted
criminal charges when he knows or it is obvious that the charges are not supported by probable cause.

I hope this information is helpful.

Edited by N Cal Attorney on 7/1/2010 at 9:15 AM EST