Prosecutorial discretion

Prosecutorial discretion

In NJ criminal matters the prosecutor has discretion to proceed as the police have charged, downgrade the charges, or dismiss a matter completely. There are numerous reasons that each may occur but I shall only cover the most common here.

Most often, when a prosecutor moves ahead with the original charges and does not waiver as the matter moves toward trial it means the evidence against the accused is substantial and not easily refutable.

In the opposite situation, reasons a prosecutor may decide to dismiss a case are lack of amount or quality of evidence which offer no real link of the accused to the scene of the crime. There may be only one witness who is less than reputable. The attorney for the accused may succeed with a motion to suppress evidence or the prosecutor himself may find the police violated the accused's rights and obtained evidence illegally. There may be a determination that the interests of justice will not be served by prosecution as is often the case when the accused has an addiction and is instead directed to treatment. Finally, the accused may be standing trial in multiple jurisdictions for the same series of events and the prosecutor finds the overlap unnecessary.

In between the aforementioned situations is the situation where the prosecutor reduces the original charges. This may be based on lack of evidence, the fact that the matter was a first offense, contribution of a victim to the escalation of a situation or other fact specific reasons.

Clearly, the accused and his or her counsel may obtain indicia of the strength or weakness of the case against the accused from the prosecutor's treatment of the matter throughout the plea bargaining process.

For more information on criminal matters in NJ visit HeatherDarlingLawyer.com.

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