Los Angeles Prosecutorial Misconduct Attorneys
Prosecutorial misconduct is an abuse of power that can occur at any stage of a criminal proceeding. It can be defined as breaking of a law or code of professional ethics by a prosecutor in the course of a prosecution. Prosecutors can engage in prosecutorial misconduct in four different ways:
- Offering evidence they know to be false or inadmissible (including encouraging witnesses to lie on the stand)
- Keeping exculpatory evidence (that could help clear the defendant of the charges) hidden from the defense
- Using improper arguments
- Discriminating in selecting a jury
In Brady v. Maryland, 373 U.S. 82, the U.S. Supreme Court held that criminal prosecutors must turn over all evidence in a criminal prosecution that might exonerate the defendant to the defense. There are two possible types of Brady violations:
- When the prosecution knowingly makes false statements or introduces or allows trial testimony that it knew or should have known was false; and
- When the prosecution suppresses evidence that is favorable to the defense.
When it is discovered that prosecutorial misconduct prejudiced the defendant in a criminal case, the judge can take any of three actions, depending on the circumstances. The court may either:
- Dismiss the charges against the defendant;
- Instruct the jury to disregard certain evidence or comments; or
- Grant a motion by the defense for a new trial.
If prosecutorial misconduct occurred but it did not materially affect the case, a remedy will not be granted. The misconduct must have materially affected the outcome of the trial. Prosecutorial misconduct is not deemed prejudicial if the evidence against the defendant was overwhelming, and if, without misconduct on the part of the prosecution, the outcome of the trial would have been the same.
The prosecution has many opportunities to engage in misconduct. Actions on the part of prosecutors that courts have found to constitute misconduct include:
- Using entrapment or other improper investigative techniques
- Making statements to the press that prejudice the jury pool
- Making improper statements in front of the jury (for example, mentioning facts not in evidence or criticizing the defendant for exercising his or her constitutional right not to testify at trial)
- Bringing criminal charges in bad faith (with no real hope of getting a conviction) to punish or retaliate against someone
- Tampering with evidence
- Failing to turn over exculpatory evidence to the defense
- Knowingly presenting false evidence or false witness testimony to a grand jury or court
- Convincing a defendant to plead guilty through misrepresentation of the existence of incriminating evidence or by making false promises
Prosecutors have substantial control over most phases of a criminal case. They may participate in the investigation, decide what charges the defendant will face, and recommend sentencing to the court after a conviction. Misconduct can impact any stage of the process. If you are facing criminal charges, you need an experienced Los Angeles criminal defense attorney who knows how to shield you from prosecutorial misconduct.
Our Los Angeles criminal defense lawyers at Werksman Jackson & Quinn LLP are tenacious with proven results. We pride ourselves on delivering the best legal criminal defense available for every client we represent. If you are facing criminal charges, contact us at (213) 688-0460 to schedule a free consultation. Our legal team has the knowledge, skills, and resources to protect you against prosecutorial misconduct and effectively pursue the most favorable outcome in your case.
Recent Case Results
- Complete Dismissal of Molestation Charges
Attorney Mark Werksman’s 29 year old client was falsely accused of molesting two neighborhood children and was subsequently charged with felony child molestation, with a significant prison sentence hanging over his head should he be convicted. Instead, at the preliminary hearing Werksman was able to convince the court to grant his client a complete dismissal of any charges.
- Decision Set Aside
Client, a college student in a faulty Title IX case, was awarded $130,000 in attorney fees.
- Probation with No Jail Time for Drug Money Laundering Charge
Wilmington man accused in New York federal court of laundering drug money through the sale of laptop computers. Mark was able to get the case transferred to federal court in Los Angeles, where he convinced the United States Attorney to reduce the charges. His client was sentenced to probation with no jail time on a misdemeanor conviction.