Most of the time, a District Attorney determines if a prosecution should be commenced after an individual has been arrested. The District Attorney has what is referred to as “prosecutorial discretion”, which means he/she has the discretion to decide what charges to file against an accused defendant. In Oklahoma, there is a presumption by law that prosecutors act in good faith when determining which crimes to prosecute and the punishment(s) to pursue. Once the case has commenced and charges are filed, the District Attorney holds the power to make plea arrangements, although a defendant does not enjoy a constitutional right to a plea deal.
While a prosecutor has discretion, such discretion cannot be deliberately based upon an unjustifiable standard such as race, religion, or other arbitrary classification. A prosecutor’s discretion to plea bargain has been recognized as an essential component of our justice system. It leads to prompt and largely final disposition of most Tulsa criminal cases.
Before Criminal Charges are Filed – Criminal Charges in Tulsa
Oklahoma sets forth guidelines for prosecutors:
Rule 3.8. Special Responsibilities of a Prosecutor
The prosecutor in a criminal case shall:
(a) refrain from prosecuting a charge that the prosecutor knows is not supported by probable cause;
(b) make reasonable efforts to assure that the accused has been advised of the right to, and the procedure for obtaining, counsel and has been given reasonable opportunity to obtain counsel;
(c) not seek to obtain from an unrepresented accused a waiver of important pretrial rights, such as the right to a preliminary hearing;
(d) make timely disclosure to the defense of all evidence or information known to the prosecutor that tends to negate the guilt of the accused or mitigates the offense, and, in connection with sentencing, disclose to the defense and to the tribunal all unprivileged mitigating information known to the prosecutor, except when the prosecutor is relieved of this responsibility by a protective order of the tribunal;
(e) not subpoena a lawyer in a grand jury or other criminal proceeding to present evidence about a past or present client unless the prosecutor reasonably believes:
(1) the information sought is not protected from disclosure by any applicable privilege;
(2) the evidence sought is essential to the successful completion of an ongoing investigation or prosecution; and
(3) there is no other feasible alternative to obtain the information;
(f) except for statements that are necessary to inform the public of the nature and extent of the prosecutor’s action and that serve a legitimate law enforcement purpose, refrain from making extrajudicial comments that have a substantial likelihood of heightening public condemnation of the accused and exercise reasonable care to prevent investigators, law enforcement personnel, employees or other persons assisting or associated with the prosecutor in a criminal case from making an extrajudicial statement that the prosecutor would be prohibited from making under Rule 3.6 or this Rule;
(g) The lawyer upon whom a subpoena is served shall be afforded a reasonable time to file a motion to quash compulsory process of his/her attendance. Whenever a subpoena is issued for a lawyer who then moves to quash it by invoking attorney/client privilege, the prosecutor may not press further in any proceeding for the subpoenaed lawyer’s appearance as a witness until an adversary in camera hearing has resulted in a judicial ruling which resolves all the challenges advanced in the lawyer’s motion to quash.
O.S. § 5 Ch. 1 Appendix 3-A
If you have Criminal Charges in Tulsa pending against you, contact our office for a free consultation. We have flexible payment plans available.