How Does The Prosecutor Decide Which Cases To Pursue?
Prosecutors have limited resources so they cannot possibly pursue every single case with which they are presented. Although I’m not privy to their decision-making process, through discussions with hundreds of state and federal prosecutors, the most common response that I’ve heard is that they select cases based on their strength, merit, and the potential benefit to the public. Prosecutors are not in the business of losing cases, so they must look at the evidence available and assess the likelihood of success if a charge or charges are brought. It’s important to keep in mind that prosecutors are in a political field and they are fully aware that their decision to prosecute (or not prosecute) in certain cases may provide ammunition against them in the next round of elections.
What Is Restitution?
The term “Restitution” in a criminal justice system means payment by an offender to the victim for the harm caused by the offender’s wrongful acts. The courts have the authority to order convicted offenders to pay restitution of victims as a part of their sentences. Restitution can cover any out-of-pocket losses directly related to the crime including medical expenses, therapy costs, prescription charges, counseling cost, lost wages, expenses related to participating in the criminal justice process such as travel cost & child care expenses, lost or damaged property, insurance deductibles and crime scene cleanup. Restitution will not cover things such as pain and suffering or emotional distress. It is a form of repayment for damages that are easy to prove, things for which a victim might have a bill or receipt.
In the federal system, the Mandatory Restitution Act of 1996 established procedures for determining the amount of restitution a victim may be entitled. The act provides that identified victims may be entitled to an order of restitution for certain losses suffered as a result of the commission of an offense or loses that a defendant agrees to repay as a part of a plea agreement. Victims maybe either individuals or businesses. Congress has made restitution mandatory for many types of federal crimes. If a defendant pleads guilty or is found guilty at trial, the United States Attorney’s office will provide the United States Probation Office with available information on each identified victim’s loss.
The information is usually obtained by the case agent during the investigation. A United States Probation Officer is assigned to investigate the background of a defendant and prepare pre-sentence report for the judge recommending the most appropriate sentence. Identified victims whose losses are included in the counts of conviction or as a part of a plea agreement will also have the opportunity to request restitution and explain their losses in a declaration of victim’s law statement. A United States Probation Officer provides victims with the declaration statement form after the defendant has been convicted at trial or has pleaded guilty.
What Is Forfeiture In White Collar Crime Cases?
Generally, there are three types of forfeiture; criminal, civil and administrative.
Criminal forfeiture is an action brought as a part of a criminal prosecution of a defendant. It requires the government to indict the property used or derived from the crime along with the defendant. If the jury finds that the property is forfeitable, the court then issues an order of forfeiture. For forfeitures pursuant to the Controlled Substances Act, the Racketeering Influence and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO) as well as money laundering and obscenity statutes, there is an ancillary hearing for third parties to assert their interest in the property. Once the interests of third parties are addressed, the court issues a final forfeiture order.
Civil judicial forfeiture is an action against the property. The property is the defendant and no criminal charge against the owner is necessary.
Administrative forfeiture permits the federal seizing agency to forfeit the property without judicial involvement. The authority for certain federal agencies to start an administrative forfeiture is found in the Tariff Act of 1930.
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