The success of a prosecutor’s career depends largely on their conviction rate. They need to secure election and then re-election, which can be difficult to do without having data to confirm their job performance.
The more times a prosecutor brings charges and then loses the case in court, the worse their record becomes and the harder it will be for them to hold their position. Prosecutors often help ensure high local conviction rates by bringing the most severe possible charges against defendants and finding multiple criminal statutes to use to bring charges for a single situation.
Individuals facing a felony offense or multiple misdemeanor charges for a single incident may consider entering a guilty plea to minimize what consequences they face. Each plea entered means one less case that could drag down a prosecutor’s success rate. However, the plea may benefit the prosecutor more than the defendant. Does a guilty plea eliminate the risk of specific criminal consequences?
Judges are typically the ones who hand down sentences
In criminal court proceedings, neither the prosecutor who charges someone with a crime and then negotiates the plea deal they accept nor the police officers initially questioning someone have the ultimate say in what penalties they face. For the most part, prosecutors can only make suggestions regarding what sentence the courts hand down after someone pleads guilty.
A judge will typically have the final determination in what penalties someone incurs because of a criminal offense. Even if police officers make promises to you or try to convince you that confessing and pleading guilty will mean lower penalties, they don’t have any say in what the judge ultimately decides.
Prosecutors do sometimes have the authority to limit the penalties someone faces in court. Prosecutors can potentially change the charges that they bring against someone if they agree to plead guilty or can sometimes influence a judge but not requested enhanced sentencing.
Unless you have very specific terms set in a written agreement with the state before entering the guilty plea, the judge presiding over the case has the authority to set have sentence you must serve. Learning more about the rules that apply in felony criminal cases can help individuals determine how they want to respond after their indictment.