What is Prosecutorial Discretion?
When authorities believe an individual has committed a crime, they submit the case to the prosecutor’s office to decide whether or not to file criminal charges against the individual for the alleged offense. Our criminal defense attorneys recognize that prosecutors have wide discretion in these situations and take that into consideration when handling your case.
Deciding Not To Charge You
First, a prosecutor has the discretion to decide not to file any charges at all when a case is submitted to them. They may choose not to issue charges for many different reasons, including:
- There is currently not enough evidence to support the charges;
- Important evidence was clearly obtained in violation of the suspect’s Fourth Amendment rights;
- The law that supports the charge is antiquated and no longer applies in modern society despite still being on the books;
- The suspect provides important evidence in exchange for immunity for certain charges; or
- Procedural defects in the case, including lapse of statute of limitations and more.
Following an arrest, you may simply may be released without receiving a citation or a summons or having to go to court for an arraignment. However, the prosecutors still have until the statute of limitations is up to decide to issue charges against you for the incident. In some cases, they may simply want to gather additional evidence or investigate the circumstances of your arrest before proceeding. For this reason, you should still discuss your arrest and your situation with an experienced criminal defense lawyer who understands how the criminal process works in Florida even if you have not yet been charged.
Deciding Which Charges To Issue
If a prosecutor does decide to issue charges, they have the discretion to decide which applicable charges they will file. For example, if you are under suspicion for killing someone, there is more than one charge that can be filed depending on the circumstances of the suspected homicide. For example, the following are murder charges under Florida law:
- First-degree murder;
- Second-degree murder;
- Third-degree murder;
- Manslaughter (murder without intent); and
- Felony murder.
A prosecutor may charge you with one of the above or multiple of the above and try to secure a conviction for the most serious charge possible. The penalties you face can vary widely depending on which charges are filed against you, so prosecutorial discretion can greatly affect your case. An experienced defense lawyer should understand how to defend against all of the charges filed against you if you are facing multiple possible charges for the same alleged offense.
Contact An Experienced Boca Raton Criminal Defense Attorney For Help Today
Prosecutors often use their discretion to pursue charges and convictions to the fullest extent the law will allow. The assistance of a highly experienced and skilled criminal defense attorney is critical to present your case to the prosecutor so that you can avoid wrongful or overly harsh charges or penalties. No matter how minor your charges may seem, you should always remember that the prosecutor is not on your side and that you need representation from an attorney who will protect your rights and interests. Please call the law office of Lavalle, Brown & Ronan in Boca Raton at 888-646-1315 for help today.