17 June 2008

Why Won't the Prosecutor Believe You and Drop the Prosecution of Your Client?

Ipse's frustrated. She told the prosecutor that his case isn't worth a hill of beans, but he just didn't seem too impressed.

Why? Why won't the evil prosecutor just do the right thing and drop the charge? Why?

Well, I can't speak for the prosecutor in this case, but let me offer a possibility.

Let's assume the prosecutor speaks with different defense attorneys about 20 cases a week. 10 defendants are so obviously guilty that even Gerry Spence couldn't win their trial. 10 fall somewhere in the gray zone. Of these 10, experience tells the prosecutor that 7 of the defense attorneys are doing the best with some minor facts in their favor; there are some interesting circumstances, but if pushed to a jury there's not much doubt how the trial will turn out. 1 defense attorney is working with facts and law which which will make the case closer, but still present a 75% chance of conviction at trial. 1 defense attorney has a case which is 50-50. 1 defense attorney has a case which the defense has an 80% probability of winning. And let's say that in this typical week 5 of the lawyers in the gray zone are pushing the prosecutor to drop their particular client's charge, either as a good faith assertion of non-guilt or as an opening negotiation ploy.

So, how's the prosecutor going to react when a defense attorney walks up to him in the courtroom and starts telling him how bad his case is? Well, he's not going to say, "Hmmmm, yes, I see your point. I'll drop the case as soon as I can get the paperwork done." He's probably going to say something along the lines of, "Gee, an offender who has an excuse. Never seen that before." Hopefully this will be joking banter. Never fear, you've put him on notice and he should give the officers/witnesses involved a call to see what the situation is. If you've got the 50-50 defendant or the 80% defendant sometime before the trial he's going to come to you with either a sweetheart of a deal or tell you he's going to drop the case. If he thinks you are one of the others you'll go to trial. Then it becomes a matter of who sized up the case better and if you're right you'll win walking away. Having done so, the next time you talk to that particular prosecutor he'll tend to listen a little more attentively because you've proven you were able to accurately assess a case and - perhaps more importantly - that you weren't just running a bluff.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

truly great post.

- karl