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Feb 22, 2017

How Does a Prosecutor Decide Whether or Not to File Charges?

If there is evidence that you have broken the law, it is possible that you could be formally charged with a crime by a prosecutor. However, there is no guarantee what the exact charge or charges may be or if any will even be applied in your case. What are some factors that a prosecutor may consider before determining whether or not to proceed with a case?

Is There Enough Evidence to Support the Charge?

The first question that a prosecutor must ask is whether or not there is enough evidence to support a charge. In many cases, there are multiple elements that must be proven to establish that a crime occurred. For instance, it isn’t enough that a person confessed to killing another person.

It may also be necessary to establish motive, find the murder weapon and find the body of the allegedly deceased person. From there, it may also need to be established that the defendant intended to kill the victim or understood that what he or she did was wrong.

Is the Defendant Mentally Fit to Stand Trial?

A defendant must be declared mentally competent to stand trial if a prosecutor wishes to proceed with a criminal case. If that person is not deemed to be mentally fit for trial, it is possible that he or she will be sent to a mental facility to receive treatment. Once he or she has been rehabilitated, that person may be released back into the community without serving any additional jail time.

What Type of Crime Was Committed?

There are some crimes that may not be worth trying in the eyes of a prosecutor. For instance, someone caught with small amounts of marijuana may not be seen as a true menace to society. In a best case scenario, the defendant agrees to a plea and pays a small fine. In a worst case scenario, the defendant decides to go to trial, which wastes both time and money that could be spent prosecuting a more dangerous criminal. Therefore, it may just be easier to issue a citation that can be paid through the mail or just drop the case altogether.

Would a Jury Convict the Defendant?

Prosecutors are always wary of not being able to win a case. Therefore, if they don’t think that they can get a plea or a conviction at trial, they may be less likely to take the case. This may be true even if there is enough evidence to charge an individual or a dangerous crime was committed. In America, if a person is acquitted for a particular crime, he or she cannot be brought back to trial for that same crime. Therefore, it may be better to wait until the odds are better of a conviction before filing charges in a case.

Are Witnesses Willing to Testify in Court?

One of the most effective ways to prove that someone committed a crime is to get the testimony of those who saw it happen. However, if a witness is not willing to testify in court, it is like he or she never saw it happen in the eyes of the law. While it may be possible to charge a defendant with witness intimidation, that may be difficult to prove as well. Therefore, it may not be worth pursuing a case if no one is willing to tell a jury what they know about it.

Was a Law Broken?

It is possible that a federal law and a state law conflict. Therefore, a prosecutor would have to decide whether to charge a person with a federal crime even if an action is legal in the state where it took place. While federal law always trumps state law, it doesn’t mean that a prosecutor has to take or try a case.

There are many issues that a prosecutor must consider when it comes to whether or not to file charges against an individual. If you have been charged with a crime, it may be in your best interest to talk with an attorney right away. Doing so may preserve your rights and increase the odds of getting a favorable outcome in your case.

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Brooklyn

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New York, NY 10005

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Queens

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Astoria, NY 11106

Phone

888-977-6335

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Brooklyn, NY 11201

Phone

888-977-6335

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