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Police Officers Involvement in Prosecuting and Processing (US Criminal Justice)

Police officers play a vital role in prosecuting. The prosecution begins with an arrest. Police officers make the arrest based on probable cause and file formal charges, write an affidavit, then hand the documents to the prosecutor’s office. After that, the prosecutor reviews the reports and decides if they want to go ahead with the prosecution or not. If a prosecution is chosen, there will be a probable cause hearing, then an initial court appearance. Defendants can choose between a bench trial or jury trial, except in municipal courts where there is no jury trial.

The deposition is part of the discovery process, and it involves recorded testimony of the police officer. The prosecutor and the defense lawyer can access deposition recordings. Patrol police mostly deal with administrative hearings such as traffic court, DUI and license provocation, small claims, family law, and employee disciplinary proceedings.

Trial preparation starts from arriving on the scene. Officers are required to effectively report all details about the arrest incident, provide photos and videos, and collect witness statements. After that, the officer provides a comprehensive case summary and hands it to the prosecutor’s office.

Law requires prosecutors to disclose officers’ credibility issues as part of the discovery process. Which was a US Supreme ruling in Giglio v. the United States (1972). The law mandates prosecutors to investigate their witnesses and provide any impeachable information to the defense. Giglio law affects officers’ conduct on or off duty. Failure to disclose any misconduct might cause a mistrial. Giglio violations result in officers’ reassignment to office jobs or termination.

Photo © ABA

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Fahad Hizam alHarbi, PI