In The Justice System, Prosecutors have an enormous amount of discretion in a criminal case. As a former prosecutor in the State of New York, and the Federal System in Detroit, I had the ability to decide who should be charged with a crime, what felony and misdemeanor charges should be filed, and when charges would be filed. Like all prosecutors, I also had the ability to negotiate plea bargains, dismiss charges, and recommend downward departures at sentencing. However, prosecutors cannot engage in conduct that amounts to selective or vindictive prosecution. For ethical prosecutors, this is not a problem. Unfortunately, some prosecutors cross the line. A recent google search for "prosecutorial misconduct cases" yielded over 150,000 results in .28 seconds.
Shoplifting Misdemeanor v. Felony: The Consequences for Shoplifting are More Serious than Most Expect
In the Justice System, sentencing, and mandatory minimums for federal offenders are hot topics again. In March, 2013 Democratic Senator Patrick J. Leahy and Republican Senator Rand Paul introduced the Safety Valve Act of 2013. If the bill becomes law, it will allow federal judges to sentence offenders facing mandatory minimum sentences to less time in prison, regardless of the crime charged, provided that doing so does not jeopardize public safety. This does not mean that federal judges will be required to sentence offenders below the mandatory minimum, it merely permits judges to do so when the mandatory minimum sentence is unreasonable and does not fulfill the legislature's goals of punishment.
In the Justice System, the right to counsel in a criminal case is a cornerstone of justice. In the 1963 landmark decision of Gideon v. Wainwright, the Supreme Court declared that criminal defendants facing felony charges have the right to an attorney even if they cannot afford to pay for one
The Police & You - the Fourth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution guarantees "The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures ... and [that] no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation ..."