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What if a prosecutor on a federal case change?

Indianapolis, IN |
Filed under: Federal crime

Is it a good or bad thing if a prosecutor change on a case? Can the new prosecutor make the decision of if the case is not strong enough to be filed federally, and give it back to the state?

Attorney Answers 4


  1. There can be substitution of counsel. It happens. It does not mean that the case is strong or weak. But, you are correct. Sometimes a second set of eyes might see the flaws of an indictment's set of facts and reconsider it altogether. There is no state handover. Both can prosecute at the same time for the same crime, one a Federal crime and one a state crime. Plan for all occasions. Work with an attorney. Take Care!


  2. Great questions. The answer is not as clear. It depends. Many times the change will not matter in the sense that it will not change the way that the government prosecutes the case. It may matter if the personalities of the prosecutor and the defense attorney mesh better or worse.
    It is a new "bite of the apple" and I'm that sense I always approach it as new hope for positive movement for the defense. I hope it is so in your situation.

    Of course, every answer is based on the question asked and requires a more complete context. This answer should not be relied upon to make a legal decision. Seek the advice of an experienced criminal defense attorney before acting. Law Offices of Raymond G. Wigell, Ltd. Defenders of the Constitution since 1975/ Aggressive Creative Defense Strategies/ Website: www.waaltd.com 24/7 call (708) 481-4800 text (708)218-0923


  3. Often, federal prosectors stay with a case from beginning to end, however, often, federal cases take a long time to finish and prosectuors get transferred or leave the office. It doesn't mean all that much to the case, except maybe someone less familiar is working on the case. The new prosecutor can make whatever decision about the case he or she wants, but probably has to get approval to dismiss a case in favor of a state prosecution.

    No legal advice is given here. My responses to questions on Avvo are never intended as legal advice and must NOT be relied upon as if they were legal advice. I give legal advice ONLY in the course of a formal attorney-client relationship. Exchange of information through Avvo's Questions & Answers forum does not establish an attorney-client relationship with me. That relationship is established only by joint execution of a written agreement for legal services. I am only licensed in the States of California and New York and the District of Columbia


  4. Just to add to what my colleagues have said: it is not uncommon in some jurisdictions to have a different prosecutor handle the case before it is indicted (if it ever is) or up until trial, and then hand over to another department. This can be good or bad. A lot in this system depends on who your prosecutor is.

    Sometimes, a case will be abandoned by the state if the feds are going to prosecute it (especially where, for example, a new minor crime triggers a violation of federal supervised release, and the defendant is looking at more time on the federal probation violation than the state crime). However, it is less common for the feds to abandon a case because the state is going to prosecute it. But as my colleague points out, either or both can prosecute crimes and it is not double jeopardy.

    I am a CA attorney and this is just meant to get you started in looking for the right lawyer! This is not legal advice. No Attorney/Client relationship has been formed. I may or may not be licensed in your jurisdiction. Please consult an attorney licensed in your jurisdiction for state specific advice.

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