As much as no one may want to admit it, politics has a huge effect on criminal law. There are a variety of reasons for this, and unfortunately they’re not all easy to dismiss. There are the situations where an individual lawyer or prosecutor, say chicago criminal lawyer may feel one way or another about a political topic, and that will affect how they approach a particular case. Yet that sort of situation happens no matter what, due to the fact that everyone has personal values and those personal values will affect their actions.
If you really want to see the places where politics affect criminal law, you have to look no further than the way the District Attorney’s office works.
District Attorneys are an elected position whose job it is to represent the government during criminal proceedings. This means that it’s their job to decide whether or not the government will press charges against any particular crime, and how the criminal trial will proceed.
Unfortunately, many criminal proceedings occur not because the crime is truly heinous, nor because the act in question is one that requires harsh judgement. Instead, in many cases, the district attorney will press charges because it will let them look good to their constituents.
This means that a number of cases that might be better to dismiss, or at the very least try for a lesser charge, get treated as if they are incredibly heinous crimes due to no other reason than making the district attorney look good.
It may seem as though this sort of action would wind up falling flat. After all, no one wants a world in which minor crimes are treated as major crimes for no reason other than generating good press. Unfortunately, there are two things that work against this.
One is that the average person does not actually understand how the law works. They’re not lawyers, nor are they lawmakers. They don’t need to understand the details of how law works. However, because they don’t understand how law works, they may think something sounds like a good idea when it really is not one. The “three strikes” law is a great example of this. It sounds like, should a person commit three felonies, they should absolutely be treated as a dangerous criminal and removed from public. Unfortunately, people don’t realize how many non-dangerous crimes, such as drug possession, are considered felonies.
The other thing is that people are bad at risk assessment. They never think that they’ll end up being affected by the overly political nature of the criminal justice system.
The only way to stop this situation is by making sure you understand what’s going on. When the election for the district attorney comes up, don’t simply vote for whoever is the incumbent. Make sure you understand how the various nominees have acted and voted in the past, and make a decision based on that. Only by taking an active part in the process can we change the world for the better.