Not All Prosecutors are Evil . . . All of the Time
This week, I had a client who was, by all acounts, a long-time drug addict. He had a prior possession conviction, and had been to prison twice before for home burglary. Now, he was charged with breaking into an auto parts store at night by smashing the glass door of the building. He had removed some items, but they were all found sitting out in front of the store. There was also a trail of blood leading away from the store. My client was found about a block away, a bit dazed, trying to stop his bleeding wrist. He admitted to the officer that he had broken into the building, hoping to steal something he could sell to buy drugs.
Burglary of a building is a state jail felony. However, because my client had been to prison for felonies twice before, his punishment level was enhanced to a second degree felony--2-20 years in prison. The prosecutor's initial offer was five years in prison. My client desperately wanted drug treatment, and asked for probation with the condition that he be sent to SAFP, which is a 6-9 month lockdown drug treatment program run out of the state prison system. In talking to my client, I honestly believed that he wanted to get off drugs, and that he knew that only something as intensive as SAFP would work for him. But, I also knew that a prosecutor would be unlikely to offer probation to someone with his criminal record. Still, I spoke with the prosecutor, laid out my client's case and his plea, and asked her to consider it. She read the police report thoroughly, called the complainant, and came back to me with an offer of ten years probation with SAFP. It seemed like a miracle. But, it wasn't. It was just a situation where this prosecutor saw a guy with a long history of drug-related crime, and thought that maybe, this time, there was a chance to get this guy clean, instead of having him continue to commit crimes, and end up in prison for the rest of his life. She gave him a chance. It wasn't a chance he was entitled to or that he deserved, but it was a chance she chose to offer him. She is no wimpy prosecutor. I have seen her try the hell out of her jury trials, and demand a life setence--and get it--from a jury. But in this case, she threw my guy a life line. I hope he takes every advantage of the opportunity she has given him, and that he realizes that this tough, decent, hard-working prosecutor may have saved his life.