On June 25th, 2019, Queens will vote for the next District Attorney. Be sure to get out to your voting stations and cast your vote!
The appointed will have control over the future directions of our local criminal justice and public safety systems – and they have a lot of discretion..
“Prosecutors have unbelievable discretion…The criminal code is really written like a menu of options for prosecutors.,” Katie Schaffer told The Appeal, a nonprofit that reports on the criminal justice system. Schaffer is a New York organizer with JustLeadershipUSA, a group that supports reducing incarceration.
What does a District Attorney do?
- the chief local prosecutor
- leads a team of about 300 assistant district attorneys, who argue criminal cases on behalf of the borough
- After police make an arrest, district attorneys have the power to decide if a case will be brought against that person or if they’ll decline to prosecute. They and their assistant prosecutors decide what charges the accused person will face and, if the person is found guilty, recommend the parameters of the punishment that person will serve.
- Prosecutors largely control the terms of a plea bargain: the charges, the length and type of sentence. This is significant because a vast majority of criminal cases end in plea bargains instead of going to trial.
- Prosecutors have complete access to evidence in a case and control what evidence is made available to the defense — and how quickly. (A new state law requires prosecutors to share evidence against criminal defendants within 15 days of arraignment.)
- Prosecutors also make bail recommendations to a judge. A study in New York City found a correlation between prosecutors’ bail requests and judges’ decisions. (New York recently ended the use of cash bail for nonviolent offenders.
Who are the Candidates?
Did you miss the candidate forum on Monday? Find out who is running:
- Patch.com has a Queens DA Guide
- Gotham Gazette has a Queens DA Guide
- City & State has tracked who has endorsed which candidates
- Queens Daily Eagle found under representation in Queen’s DA office