Hello and welcome back to Attorney Paz’s rants of a criminal defense attorney. This week I want to talk about prosecutors. Check out this post or watch my video on this subject on Facebook.
Working With Prosecutors
You’ll never hear me say a bad word about a prosecutor, I have a lot of prosecutor friends, we all serve a purpose in this system. But it is important to note that 9/10ths of every battle is the prosecutor, who you pull as a prosecutor, knowing your prosecutor, knowing what quirks they have, what their sticking points are, and trying to negotiation your way around what you know about them as a person. Some prosecutors will be assigned to a case so you can’t really pick and choose your prosecutor, but you have to know that if one prosecutor is assigned to a case, you have to know what his sticking points are. Some prosecutors will tell me, “well, I really hate DUIs” so I know if I have a guy who probably qualifies as a third offender, they’re not going to come off that third offender offer. Some prosecutors have police in their family and so I know that when there is an allegation of assault on a police officer, it’s probably a good idea to try to avoid that person.
But prosecutors have a lot of power about coming off of specific charges, especially where there’s a mandatory minimum, so if you know your prosecutor and know that they don’t like particular issues, it may make it a little more difficult for you to convince them to come off of particular charges.
A Recent Example
The reason that I am talking about this today has to do with one particular case I have where a prosecutor was assigned and then went to another job. In the last year there has been a lot of movement in the state of Connecticut with prosecutors moving to different jurisdictions, moving to different jobs, hiring new prosecutors, etc. So you have to kind of keep track of where they’re all going and how that affects your cases.
In this particular case, a prosecutor was assigned, I knew who she was, and I had been dealing directly with her and we had engaged in preliminary discussions about what should happen to this particular case. She then goes and gets another job somewhere else, prompting the need to reassign this case. But because we have already started discussions about the case, obviously this can be particularly detrimental to the client. Because now whereas one person had already put their thoughts on the file, they may not have the same inclinations as somebody else.
So now I’m in a position where one prosecutor basically told me, “don’t worry about it, your client is the lesser culpability,” and it didn’t really sound to me as if she was pursuing jail time and also it sounded to me as if she wasn’t pursuing felonies. Then, somebody else gets the file and he’s like, “well no, I think he should plead to felonies, I think it should be a cap offer, and you should argue to the court why he shouldn’t go to jail.” And I said, “no, these were not my discussions.”
So it becomes particularly difficult dealing with different prosecutors and navigating your way for your client because you need to be able to explain to your client, “listen, this is who is assigned to the file, these are the conversations we’re having with this person because this is the type of offer that generally comes from this person.” In this particular case, I think that because somebody else had ownership of the file and I had engaged in preliminary discussions with that person, that person should be the main point person to handle the file because of the differing opinions about where the case should be going.
That’s my rant for the day. Make sure your criminal defense attorney knows the prosecutors in the jurisdictions that you have your cases in because they may be able to better navigate their way around particular issues concerning sticking points for prosecutors and how to deal with those particular prosecutors. Maybe they’re looking for certain mitigation evidence, or maybe they like to see treatment. Your attorney, if he or she knows what they’re doing, will know those issues. So that’s my rant for the day. If you have any questions call me, email me, [email protected], and as always, take care, don’t get arrested, and see you soon.