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Spokane Criminal Defense Law Blog

Justice Dept. may order US Attorneys to choose harsher charges

When investigators come to a federal prosecutor with evidence of a crime, there are two ways the decision is made as to what charges, if any, should be filed. One is a grand jury proceeding, in which the prosecutor presents the facts and law to the grand jury and asks them to return an indictment. The other is a decision made directly by the prosecutor. In either situation, however, the prosecutor makes ethical and strategic decisions about what the appropriate charge would be, based on the evidence available.

If the Trump Administration gets its way, that may change. Instead of leaving charging decisions to prosecutorial discretion, the Department of Justice may issue new policy guidance urging them always to file the most serious charges they can prove in court.

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