Legal Questions? / Legal Answers!

A Little About The Police, D.A. & Judge

"Back in my early days as a Loss Prevention Manager I once caught a Store Manager stealing from the cash office of a major department store. When the Police arrived and arrested him, I heard the Store Manager ask them "What am I going to get for this? " The Officer quickly replied. "Depends on what side of the bed the Judge gets out of."

To me, that comment made sense. I already knew the Police have no idea what will happen next.
Even now, if an Officer arrests you for a crime and you ask him what your looking at for a fine or jail time,10 out of 10 cannot tell you.

The Police - So why can't the Police tell you what sentence, fine or jail time you'll receive for the charges? I believe and have always insisted to others that. "The Police ENFORCE the Law, they do not KNOW the Law."

So what does that really mean? Well, they don't know what the District Attorney will offer you in a plea deal. They don't know if the Judge will accept the plea deal. They don't know what the fine or sentence may be for your offense if you plead guilty. They don't know any of that! So when a Police Officer says to you " You better help yourself here.Your looking at ( # ) years for just this." Keep in mind, they don't really know what your "looking at or even what the fine or time will be.
So what can they offer you if you do cooperate? They can write in their reports how helpful you may have been. Remember, giving them information about you helps them in their case against..... you.

Something to think about in regards to that Right To Remain Silent suggestion.

The District Attorney - Besides dealing with your case, what else does the District Attorney have to do? The D.A.'s Office conducts Grand Jury Investigations, decides whether to prosecute those arrested, investigates evidence submitted, offers plea bargains, conducts trials, and litigate appeals. They will look at your case using Police statements and witness reports. They will then tell the Judge what the State is looking for in regards to a sentence or fine. When you go in to plea, most people do not have an Attorney yet. Most District Attorney's know this and try to scare you by telling the Judge they are looking for the harshest sentence or fine allowed on your case. If you plead not guilty and are getting an Attorney, even court appointed, don't worry too much about what they say they are looking for. Nothing has been discussed between them and the Attorney that hasn't been appointed to you yet. Even if you have looked at the evidence they have during discovery, you may not understand how it may be questioned. On the other hand, if your looking to plead out your case, they usually are more than willing to do so. They do not want to prosecute anymore cases than they have to. You'll have your chance to show them what witness statements ( See: Witness, Yours, Mine, Ours.) you have and that might help persuade them to lower your charge or fine they want imposed.

Judge - Make no mistake about it.The Judge is in charge of the courtroom. They can refuse recommendations submitted by the District Attorney or accept them. They can hold anyone in contempt for refusing to be respectful or refusing to follow their instructions. That alone will get you taken out immediately, and taken to jail. However I would remind you, the Judge is also human. Meaning, they are usually approachable when it comes down to questions. They will NOT help you with your case (and are fast to remind you of that) but they do help with court questions, questions about the opposing Attorney and questions on any agreed plea bargains that are offered.

My Final Thought...

"When I was 23 I was charged with Criminal Restraint for taking my son out of State.They brought the charges against me and had no witnesses. ( If I knew then what I know now) Having never been in trouble before, the District Attorney agreed to "file" my charge. What did that mean? I was told if I stayed out of trouble for a year, the charge would disappear. That statement is Not true! If you take that deal make sure you get it in writing and make sure it is followed through in a years time. They are not going to do it for you. If you don't follow through and ensure the charge is filed, you could see it appear on your criminal record. Mine did. I applied to the Sanford Police Department when I was 26. Imagine my surprise when I was told I had a criminal record because that "file"agreement was never done. That one unknown fact that my Court Appointed Attorney never mentioned to me, turned my life in a different direction.