Criminal Law

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  1. Prosecutors often possess unfettered discretion in making charging decisions. The prosecutor’s essential duty is to ensure that charging decisions are based upon the existence of probable cause. However, some would expand the prosecutor’s duty to matters surrounding social justice. In fact, K. Babe Howell suggests that prosecutors have a duty to seek justice and to decline prosecution when prosecuting would result in social inequities. Present an argument in favor of and against Howell’s position. Make sure to include case reference(s) to explain your position.
  2. Defendant “A” is arrested for possession 14 grams of oxycodone. Law enforcement met with a confidential informant, of whom was attempting to work with law enforcement to reduce their own sentence. The informant notified law enforcement that they could set up a controlled buy and procure a trafficking amount of oxycodone. The informant knew that “A” possessed a large quantity of the drug. Although “A” did not regularly sell, “A” was in desperate financial need and would likely cooperate. “A” has no criminal history, but became addicted to oxycodone after being prescribed the drug to regulate severe back pain. “A” routinely procured the drug through illicit means, but maintained possession for personal use. Because “A” regularly procures the drug through illicit means, “A” has personal knowledge of the suppliers, and could identify them. However, “A” is unlikely to cooperate with law enforcement because he is fearful of retaliation. Law enforcement agreed to the controlled buy, and ultimately “A” agreed to sell the narcotics to the informant. After the buy is complete, “A” is taken into custody. “A” is arrested for trafficking, and is subject to a mandatory minimum sentence.

You are a career prosecutor. Your community has significant drug-related problems and associated high crime activity. The State Attorney has made it clear that drug-related offenses must be prosecuted, and that all attempts should be made to identify and target major suppliers. You find out, during your investigation, that the informant is not reliable, and you question whether the informant should have been used by law enforcement. You know that you do not need to use the informant as a witness, but you are concerned nonetheless.

A. Refer to Florida Statute 893.135. Do you charge “A”, and if so, with what offense? Why do you make this decision?

B. You decide to engage in “hard bargaining” with the defense. How do you structure your plea offer? What is your goal? What advice must defense counsel provide to “A”? How might “hard bargaining” impact “A’s” decision?

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Your assignment focuses on the role of a prosecutor in the field of criminal law, specifically in the context of drug-related offenses and plea bargaining. Here is a step-by-step guide on how to approach it:

  1. Understanding the Arguments:
    Start by reading the article by K. Babe Howell that suggests prosecutors have a duty to seek justice and decline prosecution when it would result in social inequities. Understand the key points and arguments made by Howell. Then research counterarguments to Howell’s proposition.
  2. Presenting the Arguments:
    Begin your assignment by presenting an argument in favor of Howell’s position. Explain how charging decisions could impact social justice, and provide specific examples.

    Subsequently, present an argument against Howell’s stance. Highlight instances where prosecutors’ discretion has ensured justice or is essential for the functioning of the legal system.

    Make sure to incorporate relevant case references that support each viewpoint in this part of your assignment.

  3. Examining the Case:
    Carefully read the case involving Defendant “A”. Understand the charges, the circumstances of the arrest, the defendant’s personal history, and the context within which the prosecutor must operate.
  4. Applying Florida Statute 893.135:
    Look up Florida Statute 893.135 and understand the specifics of the law regarding drug trafficking. Analyze how this statute applies to “A”‘s case and whether the elements of the crime are satisfied.
  5. Making the Charging Decision:
    Based on your analysis, decide whether or not to charge “A”. Justify your decision by considering all the factors – the mandate from the State Attorney, “A”‘s circumstances, the reliability of the informant, and the goals of criminal law enforcement.
  6. Structuring the Plea Bargain:
    Now, imagine you’ve decided to engage in “hard bargaining” with the defense. Plan your plea offer. Remember that the aim here is not only to ensure justice but also to extract information that could potentially lead to major suppliers. Think about what terms you might offer “A” to secure cooperation.
  7. Counseling the Defendant:
    In this scenario, you also need to consider what advice defense counsel must provide to “A”. This advice could include explaining the plea bargain, discussing potential legal strategies, and outlining the potential consequences of each choice.
  8. Assessing the Impact of Hard Bargaining:
    Finally, discuss how “hard bargaining” might impact “A”‘s decision. This could involve “A”‘s fear of retaliation, potential sentence reduction, or the moral and ethical implications of turning in suppliers.

Remember to clearly structure your assignment, proofread your work for grammar and punctuation errors, and maintain a logical flow in your argument. Use a broad vocabulary and varied sentence structures to keep your writing engaging and professional. Good luck with your assignment!

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