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Hammer O'Justice
Hammer O'Justice, Criminal Lawyer
Category: Criminal Law
Satisfied Customers: 4498
Experience:  Almost 12 years of legal experience, primarily in criminal law
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Given the almost indiscriminate power of the District Attorney

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Given the almost indiscriminate power of the District Attorney to decide whether to prosecute a case, what advice can you provide for how an individual and / or their advocate can apply pressure to advance a case? If a complaint is filed with almost overwhelming evidence suggesting a crime has been committed, but the D.A. response is 'unconvinced / need to do further investigation' (assume that makes no sense and black and white evidence has been presented alongside the penal code violated) what measures can be taken to pressure the DA to at the very least press charges?

Unfortunately, there is no way to force the prosecutor's office to pursue a case. There are ways to "encourage" the prosecutor's office to perhaps take another look at the evidence and to review it for prosecution, but at the end of the day a prosecutor will not usually allow themselves to be forced into pursuing a case. One way to do that is to contact your local city or county representative. If they feel crime in their district is not being addressed they will often contact the prosecutor's office to follow up, which may then lead to a case receiving additional scrutiny. The same thing sometimes happens by going to the media. If people outside of the criminal justice system take an interest in a case, particularly in the political or media arena, it will usually at least garner a second look. In addition, unless the prosecutor you spoke with is the head prosecutor, you can try to escalate it up the chain to those with more authority in the prosecutor's office. But there's no official way to make a prosecutor pursue a case.

I understand that you are looking to pursue a criminal charge but you also likely have a civil case against the perpetrator so you may also want to look into a lawsuit.
Customer: replied 4 years ago.
Civil lawyers are reluctant to take on case because abuser has no funds and would not be able to pay even minimal damages - he is heavily in debt. They also point out this would make him lose his job and preclude getting hired from other places in future. So they all shy away - do you have 1) advice for how to approach civil attorneys who counter if no damages to collect, what else would be the point of civil litigation? Second, who is the Manhattan rep / which organizations or individuals would you advise contacting to plead advocacy for case review?
Essentially you will have to find an attorney willing to take the case pro bono then. This is a fairly comprehensive listing of pro bono organizations, including legal aid, and their contact information for the state of New York:

This page lists their practice areas. Some won't handle a case like this but some, particularly the women's organizations, might. You will just have to call around to see if this case fits in with what they handle.

You can also contact the state bar. Bars usually maintain a list of attorneys that are willing to do pro bono work, so you can ask if they have a referral list for that:

You can also try contacting some victims' service organizations. They may not have the resources to represent you directly but they can likely refer you somewhere or perhaps advocate with the prosecutor's office:
Customer: replied 4 years ago.

I'm sorry I think you misunderstood my question. Paying for a civil attorney is not an issue - assume that funds available are at the millions of dollars level. Any civil attorney in America can be afforded. The problem is that with knowledge that entering such a case will result in the abuser not being able to pay a cent, the case ends negatively in any light. What other purposes can civil litigation serve, beyond monetary compensation. Civil attorney asks: "What do you hope to gain?" It is usually money. I am just trying to understand civil prosecution and the acceptable motivation behind it.

The primary goal of civil litigation is to obtain money. However, it might have the collateral benefit of improving the chances of criminal prosecution if a civil verdict is given in your favor. While a successful civil case does not guarantee a successful criminal case, because the burden in a civil case is much lower than in a criminal case, a prosecutor may reevaluate the viability of the criminal case if a civil case worked out. In addition, evidence may come out during a civil trial that may bolster a criminal case, particularly if the defendant doesn't get a lawyer and makes the unwise choice to testify. The opposite could also be true, however. If a civil case is lost, then a prosecutor will certainly not take up a criminal case since the burden is even higher, and there is a chance that evidence discrediting the victim may come out. But yes, the primary goal of a civil lawsuit is money (or if the person doesn't have money, to attach their property and garnish wages to pay a judgment).
Customer: replied 4 years ago.

Would it be illegal at any level to knowingly enter into civil litigation if abused parties and their attorney are privy to the fact, from the onset, that there is zero chance of recovering any funds? What other grounds could they initiate civil litigation - what, if any, could be goals which would appropriate a civil case? In this case, it is to influence an impending criminal case as charges are more likely to be brought against abuser in criminal case if civil suit finds him guilty (even though we are aware that the burden of proof is much lower in a civil suit the chance of influence is still there).

It is not illegal to file a lawsuit just because the plaintiff is indigent. The only issue in filing a lawsuit is whether you have the grounds to do so...that is, whether there is some evidence to show that the complained of activity occurred. After all, if you get a judgment against an impoverished person and they win the lottery, then you can go after their winnings even if they didn't have the money at the time you got the judgment.


It doesn't really matter what your goal is in filing a case if you have the grounds to do so. People file cases for a lot of different reasons. Some victims find validation and vindication in a judge or jury finding them credible and ruling that the defendant is liable, even if they never get anything out of it. For other people, there is collateral value in publicizing a person's actions through legal action. People have different motives...even if their primary motive is to try to get money, they may also see the collateral benefits of filing a case like the ones outlined above. It doesn't make their suit any less valid if the evidence is there.

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