Prosecutors in Los Angeles County
When it comes to criminal defense, the prosecutor is an important cog in the system. There’re various prosecutors that prosecute criminal cases in Los Angeles County. There’s a District Attorney’s office who has about a thousand prosecutors, give or take. It’s one of the largest prosecuting agencies in the world with a bunch of Deputy District Attorneys. It’s made up of the head DA.
Los Angeles County District & City Attorney’s Office
At this time, it’s Jackie Lacey and she has a power command of people and a bunch of Deputy District Attorneys throughout Los Angeles County that prosecute cases in approximately twenty-five courts. There used to be forty courts, but they’ve now condensed the court system in Los Angeles County, so the District Attorney’s office is usually prosecuting felony cases at the state level in various courthouses, but sometimes they do share responsibility for prosecuting misdemeanor cases as well depending on which court it is. It’s important to understand the difference between the two agencies.
In some of the courts, the District Attorney is the only prosecutor in there and they have to prosecute both felonies and misdemeanors. But in most of the courts, the prosecution is shared between the District Attorney’s office and the City Attorney’s office. The City Attorney’s office is another prosecutorial agency. They prosecute mainly misdemeanor cases, code enforcement and various other crimes throughout Los Angeles County.
The City Attorney also has a power structure. They’ve got offices within each of the courthouses or just outside the courthouse, just like the District Attorney has offices there for prosecuting cases. They’ve got a head City Attorney.
His name is Michael Feuer. He’s the current head City Attorney of Los Angeles County and then he has a bunch of Deputy City Attorneys that work for him throughout the various courts in Los Angeles County. They will also meet with investigators and help deal with a lot of issues in the city, whether it be prostitution activity or people having marijuana shops throughout the city.
There are special City Attorneys for prosecute gun cases only, very similar to the District Attorney’s office where they have special prosecutors who deal with certain types of cases – whether they be gun violence, sex-related offense, investigation of police officers.
United States Attorney’s Office
The other prosecutorial agency that’s in Los Angeles in what’s called the Central District, is the United States Attorney’s Office. They prosecute federal cases in Los Angeles. There are two courthouses in downtown Los Angeles that deal with all of the federal matters in this jurisdiction.
The prosecutors that deal with those case that work for the United States Attorney’s Office are called Assistant United States Attorneys or AUSA’s, and they’re responsible for prosecuting the big federal cases that come through large-scale drug operations and other federally-related offenses that occur in the central district.
So, there’s a number of different prosecutorial agencies. Sometimes those prosecutorial agencies work with each other in a multi-task force-type situation. Each of them definitely work with law enforcement throughout the state of California and prosecutors are, to a degree, like the police in the sense that they badges.
They have authority. They’re respected by the police. They’re respected by judges and they’re really tasked with stamping out crime. So, the prosecutors are the ones that are lawyers that match up against the defense attorneys when it comes to a criminal case – taking the case to trial, negotiating with defense attorneys deciding what charges are going to be filed against a particular defendant.
So, prosecutors are an important cog in the system, and hopefully, if you have a criminal case and you’re concerned about that criminal case, that your prosecutor is fair-minded and level headed. A prosecutor’s job is supposed to be to do justice; not necessarily just to prosecute people.
They’re supposed to make sure – even when good evidence is available to the defense – that they turn that evidence over to the defense, and if they think that maybe the police have been unfair or maybe the investigation didn’t look at all the evidence, then they should dismiss the case. In some cases, we might be able to argue there was prosecutorial misconduct.
So, in their pursuit of justice, fairness is a big factor and again, some prosecutors take that job very serious and are very fair; other prosecutors, that I’ve seen at least, take the position that they’re there to prosecute people and they are more one-sided towards getting the person convicted, getting them thrown in jail or whatever the appropriate punishment is for whatever crime the prosecutor is investigating.
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