When A District Attorney charges someone, Case has to be strong?

Asked over 1 year ago - San Jose, CA

I am told that when a DA charges someone with something, that means there is a good chance of winning.
Is that true?

Attorney answers (6)

  1. Nicholas Milan Loncar

    Pro

    Contributor Level 17

    7

    Lawyers agree

    Answered . Technically the DA can file a case even with weak evidence. It's important to keep in mind that even seemingly strong cases can have weaknesses. The DA could think they have a strong case, but a good criminal defense attorney might find something that destroys the government's case.

    In California felony cases, defendants are entitled to a preliminary hearing within 10 court days of their arraignment on felony charges. Here, the government must prove that it has probable cause to keep the charges moving forward. The prosecution wins an overwhelming majority of these cases (95% or so), and that speaks towards how often DAs charge crimes without strong evidence.

    Trial places a much higher burden on the DA, so things even out a little bit. Just because charges are filed (and even if the government wins the preliminary hearing), does not mean that the defense can't still dismantle the case.

  2. Seth Andrew Weinstein

    Contributor Level 15

    6

    Lawyers agree

    Answered . In theory, the DA must have probable cause to prosecute you with the crime. That being said, in many cases, they do not have probable cause. Probable cause is often determined by the Court. Plenty of cases are dismissed on the DA's motion or at Preliminary Hearing (if a felony).

    Seth Weinstein, Esq.
    Practicing throughout Southern California
    (310) 707-7131
    www.sethweinsteinlaw.com

    This reply should NOT be considered a legal opinion of your case / inquiry. At this time I do not have sufficient... more
  3. Majid Seyfi

    Contributor Level 10

    6

    Lawyers agree

    Answered . No it doesn't have to be a strong case. The evidence just has to be sufficient to support a criminal charge. This may turn out to be wrong later and the case could be dropped or dismissed

  4. Gayle Anne-Marie Gutekunst

    Contributor Level 17

    6

    Lawyers agree

    Answered . This is a perfect illustration of what a huge number of potential jurors think, too, that is: "Well, if he weren't guilty the DA wouldn't prosecute him!" or "If he's not guilty, why would the police arrest him in the first place?" The high-minded American principle of innocence until proven guilty is not the sentiment of most people in this country, I am sad (and jaded) to say.

  5. Joseph Salvatore Farina

    Contributor Level 17

    5

    Lawyers agree

    Answered . DA's file cases for many reasons, even though they will never admit that. While the are supposed to be fair and impartial in determining whether to file a case (cough, cough) they may ulterior motives. Political pressures, especially in a high profile case, trying to show their tough on crime, targeting a certain type of crime {gang shootings, drugs) and other reasons play into their decision making process. Obviously this is not true for every run of the mill crime. But DA's are ultimately politicians who have to run for reelection and have to answer to the local media and various special interest groups if they are perceived as being weak on crime. A DA can always dismiss and refile within the applicable statute of limitations, so why not file and see what happens? I've been doing this job for 25 and 1/2 years and I've have seen it all, so I always maintain a healthy bit of cynicism,

  6. Riccardo Lorenzo Ippolito

    Contributor Level 9

    4

    Lawyers agree

    Answered . Ethically, a deputy district attorney is only allowed to file charges that they believe they can prove beyond a reasonable doubt. If they feel they cannot meet this burden, they are ethically prohibited from filing said charges. However, many times the district attorney has only one side of the story to base this on. It is important to get a good criminal defense attorney at the time the District Attorney is reviewing the matter. In this way, the other side can be presented and sometimes your attorney can influence the non-filing of a case or a reduced charge.

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