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Overcharging in criminal prosecutions is on the rise in Louisiana

On Behalf of | Dec 27, 2022 | Criminal Defense |

There are many rules meant to protect people in Louisiana and the rest of the country from unethical actions by prosecutors and police officers. The main one is the Bill of Rights, while others result from court rulings and precedents; for example, law enforcement can’t prosecute you multiple times for a single offense. However, prosecutors have found ways to bend such rules without overtly breaking them to ensure the court incriminates you or you take a guilty plea. One such method is overcharging defendants.

Understanding overcharging

Let’s say a police officer finds a person in possession of a stolen item. The officer then charges that person with theft, the most common and applicable charge in such a situation. However, a prosecutor may choose to add additional charges such as burglary or robbery — both of which involve entering someone else’s property without permission — even though there is no evidence of it. In this case, the prosecutor is trying to overcharge the defendant by accusing them of not only of stealing but also breaking into somebody else’s home.

Effects on defendants

When the court finds the defendant guilty and convicts them of these extra charges, they would face harsher punishments than they’d likely receive in a fair trial. This could include heavier fines, longer prison sentences and higher bail amounts. It can also make it much more difficult for the defendant to get a plea bargain since the prosecution is already presenting them with multiple charges.

Preventing overcharging

Defendants and their families should understand that they have rights when facing criminal prosecution in Louisiana and anywhere else in the U.S., including protection from overly aggressive prosecutors who might try to decide your fate before you even enter the courtroom. It helps to understand your case and underlying circumstances to identify when the prosecution is overcharging, with the help of your criminal defense attorney, of course, to take the necessary steps to battle it.

The most important thing is to remember that prosecutors are not always honest or abiding strictly by the law. That’s why it’s essential to be aware of rights and potential prosecutorial misconduct while dealing with criminal prosecution in Louisiana or elsewhere. You should also explore all available options and, if necessary, speak up about any unethical behavior you encounter during proceedings.