Angela Corey, known as the country’s “cruelest prosecutor,” recently lost the Republican primary race for State Attorney. The victor for the Republican nominee for State Attorney in Florida’s fourth judicial circuit is Melissa Nelson and she won by a whopping 38 percentage points. Corey became well known after failing to convict George Zimmerman for the murder of Trayvon Martin with legal commentators accusing her of overcharging him and therefore making the burden of proof impossible to meet. Corey is also known as the prosecutor who charged a 12-year-old boy as an adult in a case where he killed his two-year-old brother by shoving him into a bookshelf.
Furthermore, Corey is known for prosecuting Marissa Alexander, the woman who fired a warning shot after her abusive husband said that he was going to kill her. Corey was pushing for a 60-year sentence for Alexander and even refiled the charges against Alexander after they were overturned. Not surprisingly, Corey is also known for sending more people to death row than any other prosecutor in Florida.
What Does This Mean for Criminal Justice and Defendants?
Corey’s landslide loss indicates that many people are moving away from a “tough on crime” prosecutor and looking for alternatives to long jail sentences. However, Slate staff writer Leon Neyfakh cautions us on believing this. He notes that Melissa Nelson, the republican nominee and presumptive State Attorney also believes in being “tough on crime”. In running her campaign, Nelson did stress that there are fiscal reasons for looking into sentences other than incarceration, though she also assured voters that she would be tough on crime and is also a conservative republican.
What Difference Does It Make?
This may not seem relevant to many people, but in fact who is elected as State Attorney can make a huge difference in the outcome of cases and can also make a big difference for defendants who are charged with crimes. Prosecutors have an incredible amount of discretion and therefore are able to make their own decisions about what course of action to take. Prosecutors are able to dismiss charges if they believe that they do not have enough evidence or if there is some other reason that would warrant a case being dismissed. Prosecuting attorneys also are the ones who decide what to ultimately charge someone with. The police may arrest someone for violating a particular section of the penal code, but it is the prosecutor who ultimately decides what someone is charged with. The difference between potential charges could mean a difference of decades in prison, or even a difference between life and death. Finally, prosecutors are also the ones who decide on what plea bargains will be offered. Since the vast majority of criminal cases are settled at the plea bargain stage, this may be one of the State Attorney’s most important powers.
Contact a West Palm Beach Criminal Defense Attorney for Help
If you are charged with a crime, no matter who the prosecutor is, you should have a knowledgeable defense attorney by your side to help defend you against the charges. Our experienced criminal defense attorneys at The Skier Law Firm, P.A. in West Palm Beach Florida can help you with all your criminal defense needs.