Interviewer: Here’s another question you may have been asked before. How often do you get people who say, “I’m truly a good person. The state’s going to spend all this money pursuing me. Why don’t they just leave me alone? Can I go before the judge and tell the judge that I’m a good person and I do this, that, and the other. Maybe that’ll help my case reduced or dismissed.” Do the courts really care about that aspect?
Brian: Unfortunately, these usually are not considerations that are taken by the state, or by the county or the city. I used to hear it all the time, that if I go in to prison I won’t be able to work and my family will have to be on welfare, and this isn’t worth it to the county. Not only are they spending money to prosecute me and to try and put me in jail but the end result will be they’re going to have to pay welfare for my family.
The fact of the matter is, the county doesn’t care. They are not going to dismiss a case because of what kind of person you are. They’re not going to dismiss a case because of the amount of money that it will take. They have taken cases to trial that were not very strong. If the jury comes back hung, in that the jury can’t find the person guilty but maybe there’s one holdout or two holdouts that say, we think he’s guilty even though everyone else thinks he’s not guilty, the prosecutor WILL go to trial again.
They’ll spend additional days, they’ll take officers off of the street to come in to testify, and they’ll spend additional money and resources to try the case again. They really are not willing to just give up. They are going to fight all the way.
As far as personal attributes, whether someone is a good person, whether he or she is a volunteer at homeless shelters, sometimes that can be used in the defense. I like to get that information from my clients, but it’s more used as “the cherry on top.” If I’m able to convince the prosecutor that there are other legal or factual deficiencies in the case, I like to also be able to include that my client goes to church on Sunday, that they take care of their grandmother, they volunteer at homeless shelters, just to hopefully be that cherry on top just in case the prosecutor’s on the fence.
But in and of itself, just because a person is a good person does not mean that their case is just going to be dismissed, or put to the side, or that they’re going to be treated any differently than any other person including the bad person, such as the gang member.
This is especially true in Arizona; people are treated equally. They are going to go after that gang member the same way that they are going to go after the priest. I think it was about a decade ago where literally they went after a priest who was charged with hitting and either severely injuring or killing someone that was crossing the street. They didn’t give that priest any real benefit of the doubt; and they went and prosecuted that person.
In Arizona, Expect the Seriousness of the Offense to Be Fully Prosecuted