Monday, January 4, 2010

Another Reason Not To Have Faith in the DA's Office

I don't think anyone is surprised at the lunacy coming out of our District Attorney's office. Too many times as of late the assistant DA's are taking charges that make us shake our heads and say "they took what????" For example. I heard of an officer making an arrest for drive while license invalid on an individual in a parking lot! Now clearly the guy had to drive on a roadway to get there but nobody saw him driving on the roadway. Now, although you could waste time and money prosecuting this case by making inferences (for example "Okay jury 1 + 1 is....."). However (maybe this is just me) I would not want to get on the stand and tell a jury that I actually didn't witness the offense but it had to have happened. Any half wit defense attorney can blow that out of the water by asking could the guy have simply walked there and got into the car. I couldn't say no. Needless to say that case was dismissed and I heard the officer got lectured about common sense and the DWLI statute.

Then there are cases that should be filed but the assistant DA refuses. Now I've often wondered had they gotten lazy? Are they just out of law school and clueless? Or is there some directive at the DA's office discouraging the filing of hard cases unless the media is involved? In this scenario a woman is stopped at an intersection and there is a bum with a squeegee. He wipes her windshield without being asked to and tries to get money out of the woman. She refuses to hand over any money so the bum reaches in and tries to forcibly remove the woman from the vehicle! Now, this could constitute robbery since he is trying to take her money without her consent and using force. She gets him to release her and he takes a bottle and smashes her window. She drives off and finds an officer who comes back and catches the bum. The bum was screaming the whole time and trying to kick out the window of the patrol car. This is the guy who needed to be dragged out of the car and planted face first into the concrete then break out the hobble restraint! The DA would only take criminal mischief for the woman's window. As for him trying to pull a woman out of her car, they don't want to bother with that! Good to know that some in the DA's office can look past the fact that a woman was attacked on the street and prosecute a property crime!


Texas Ghostrider said...

By NO Means am I defending the DA's Office, they got lawyers for that! But my job duties require me to go in person down to the office and while I am consulting with them and the phone rings none stop. The sad part is the officers on the other end do not know how to sell their case to the DA. There were lots of times I would not have took the case because the officer does not know the elements of the offense.

When I call to get my charges or not. The first thing I say is I am looking for the charge of (blank) here are the facts and elements that support it. Or I am looking for a refusal due to these facts and lack of elements.

When I was training I would take my rookie into the office to speak to a DA (yes I had a couple of favorites) and sit there while the officers called in on speaker phone. THAT was a learning experiance for them.

Yes there has been a time or two where I have pointed out a charge or a case law to a DA. For the most part they are working grunts like us, trying to do the right thing.

Mad Jack said...

I often wonder the same thing. Texas Ghostrider makes a very good point about presentation. The DA hates hard work, and if a case is presented such that it's a slam dunk, the DA should prosecute. I've even known about employee theft cases where the private investigator asks the DA what is needed to prosecute the thief.

Beat And Release said...

I'm just flabbergasted at the fact that you guys have to get permission from someone who isn't on-scene to levy a charge.

In my neck of the woods the officer is taught the elements of a crime, responds to the scene, determines if the elements are there, makes the arrest and lodges the suspect. He/she then does the paperwork, which is then reviewed and checked for accuracy by the Sgt. The paperwork is then forwarded to the appropriate court.

We have municipal court every week. Unfortunately, many of the circuit court cases make it past the preliminary hearing, but are never heard from again once the solicitor gets them. The officer isn't even advised if the defendant plead guilty or plead to a lesser charge.