MarkinKansasCity wrote:Kivan wrote:MarkinKansasCity wrote:Do you ever feel bad prosecuting non-violent drug offenders? I don't think I could handle putting a stoner in jail for being a stoner.
Hell no! I'll tell you why.
#1. Stoners don't go to jail. Despite what you read on the Huffington Post, nobody is sitting in PRISON for simple possession. If you are in prison for weed, then you are a SERIOUS DEALER or you have a HORRIBLE record that has earned you a bed in the DOC.
#2. "Non-violent" is a catch-word that people don't understand. Burglary and Arson are "non-violent" crimes. If you have a criminal history, I really don't care what your motivation/addiction was, you are going to prison for breaking into someone's house.
Dude, I've known quite a few non-violent drug offenders. Weed dealers, stoners, etc. When they get caught, it can make their life hell and cost them tens of thousands of dollars in legal fees and probation shit. Not to mention that having to leave work to go see your PO for a random drug test is not the kind of reliable attendance most employers are looking for.
Obviously, every office, and even every prosecutor within an office, is different in terms of policy, triage, and handling of dispositions. I'm a prosecutor in one of the NYC boroughs, and we generally ACD lower level drug offenses for the first offense, probably the second, and maybe even the third. They're simply not worth the time and attention, especially if the person has a clean record otherwise.
That being said, I don't doubt that there are times when a defendant was doled out a harsher punishment than he deserves, perhaps the result of a overzealous prosecutor, inattentive defense attorney, shitty life circumstances, etc., but I don't believe it's a foregone conclusion that someone who gets caught with a joint is going to get maxed out on punishment every time.
Keep in mind that the trial ADA has limited discretion as to what cases to bring, what plea to offer, etc. In most cases, he can recommend something to his supervisor, but the supervisor has to approve. The supervisor, in turn, has to make sure that what he's doing is consistent with the District Attorney's policy. The District Attorney is an elected official, who needs to walk that fine line of public perception between enforcing the law and not being overzealous.