Unformatted text preview: Role of the Prosecutor Role Representative of the people Protect society by adjudicating those that commit crime. Elected official – sets policy for staff. Have wide discretion what cases to prosecute and the specific charge. Who or what impacts their decision making? Factors in Charging Process Factors Seriousness of offense and unique factors of the crime. Strength of case (evidence). Budget Community standards Politics Media attention Legislature Plea bargaining Plea Process by which the accused and prosecutor in a criminal case work out a mutually agreed upon disposition of the case subject to court approval. It usually means the defendant pleads guilty to a lesser charge or only one count of multiple charges resulting in a lighter sentence. Plea agreements may also require the defendant to testify against other individuals also charged with the same crime. Plea Bargaining Justifications Plea Gives prosecutor greater flexibility in disposing of criminal caseload. Allows public defender more time to prepare for cases that are more trial worthy. Defendants generally receive lighter sentences on reduced charge & avoid uncertainties of trial. Conserves court resources such as judge and staff time, courtroom space, etc. Provides victims with immediate closure. Criticisms of Plea Bargaining Criticisms Subverts many of the values of the criminal justice system. Becomes administrative decision of prosecutor. Allows defendants to get away with lighter sentence. Lessons deterrent affect of prosecution. May induce innocent people to plead guilty. Determination of guilt & innocence. Trial by jury of peers. Due process (burden of proof, rules of evidence) Policy Approaches to Plea Bargaining Bargaining Total ban – unintended consequences? Identify steps in the adjudication process where PB is no longer an option Prior to preliminary hearing After preliminary exam After closing arguments Strict adherence to established policy – not available for 2nd offense DUIL or crimes involving a firearm. Sentencing Guidelines Sentencing What is a fair sentence? In MI, the maximum sentence is set by statute, the minimum is discretionary. Types of Sentencing Guidelines Presumptive Discretionary Purpose is to provide structure to the sentencing process (standards). Presumption of fairness. Limits the discretion of sentencing judge. Utilizes a grid to examine both offender and the offense variables; Presumptive Sentencing Guidelines Guidelines Prior history Nature of the crime Age and maturity of the offender Impact of crime on victim Probability of rehabilitation Work up by probation department Discretionary Guidelines Discretionary Allows wider judicial discretion to adjust the minimum sentence up or down. Allows judge to take into consideration unique aspects of the crime. Criticized as allowing for abuse and creating disproportionate sentences based on race or other factors. Mandatory Sentences Mandatory Legislature determines specific length of sentence. 3 strikes legislation in California Michigan has a mandatory sentence of 2 years of convicted of a crime using a firearm. Many states including Michigan have “habitual offender” laws for specific crimes. Closing the Loopholes Closing Author of text discusses numerous ways to close loopholes in the CJ system. Prosecute “career criminal” – special units in the prosecutors office working with DB. Abolish insanity defense Abolish plea bargaining Restrict appeals Speedy trials Mandatory arrest for domestic violence Realistic approaches? Victims Rights Movement Victims Critics of the movement Programs and services fall into three broad categories Victim’s services (primarily financial compensation and counseling services) Voice in the process – input into the PB process and formal statement in court at bail hearing, or at sentencing or parole hearings. Get tough on crime laws. Criteria for evaluating Victim Assistance Programs Assistance Implementation Impact on crime victim Impact on criminal justice system ...
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- Winter '11
- prosecutor, Plea bargaining Plea