Lecture 9 Pretrial Procedures and Prosecution

Lecture 9 Pretrial Procedures and Prosecution -...

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Lecture 9 – Pretrial Procedures and Prosecution  Prosecutors An attorney whose official duty is to conduct criminal proceedings on behalf of the state or the people against persons accused of committing a criminal offense Only about 150 years old Public officials – not private citizens o Make sure private attorneys cannot go against a specific individual o By law, a crime is committed against the state (not an individual) – laws were set up as a social contract to protect all of society, and everybody must abide by the same rules Have by far the most power in the criminal justice system because they get to decide whether or not somebody ends up in prison What titles do prosecuting attorneys have? District attorney – authority over a certain area County attorney U.S. attorney – in charge of federal system State’s attorney – representing the entire state, may work in state courts (but not necessarily) What are the Prosecutor’s duties? Primary Duty = enforce the criminal law Also o Presents information evidence to grand jury Grand jury is a body of public citizens who hear evidence presented by the state and decide whether there is sufficient evidence to move forward with a formal prosecution in adult court The defense typically does not present it’s side of the evidence (because it could be used against the defendant in criminal courts later) o Decides what charges to file against defendant There are legal statutes, but it is up to the prosecutor’s interpretation
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A blessing and a curse – there are so many avenues to chose, and politics can get involved for high-profile victims/offenders (pressure to give highest/lowest charge possible) o Introduces evidence against defendant at trial No rules – the prosecutor may present any evidence that is legal under law o Directs testimony of witnesses for the state – control over the actors in the process o Argues in favor of a conviction o Files appeals on behalf of the state o Argues briefs before appellate court o Quasi-legal advisor to local police departments Prosecutorial Selection (US) Appointed o ALL federal prosecutors o Appointed by president Elected o A political figure o Serve a 4-year term o State and local prosecutors (in all but 5 states) o Most other democracies have prosecutors as appointed officials, not elected o Why the elected official approach? Accountability Fear of the power of government Federalist system – like the police system, local power guarantees more power to states and local citizens
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Prosecutorial Discretion One of the most critical decisions a prosecutor makes is who to prosecute A prosecutor can:
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Lecture 9 Pretrial Procedures and Prosecution -...

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