Not Exactly Thomas Crowne

Dear Ask a Prosecutor,
I’m a pro per defendant who’s having a hard time dealing with the DA. See, I want to plead, but the prosecutor won’t budge no matter what I try. It feels like I’m bashing my head into a wall! Any ideas on how to get what I want?

Addition Is Hard

Dear Addition Is Hard
One of the most important yet overlooked skills for a criminal attorney is negotiation. The right word at the right time can make the difference between probation and meeting a new prison boyfriend.  Here are some ways you can successfully bargain with your local DA:

  • Remember, the more ludicrous the counter offer, the better. If the DA wants 10 years in prison, you counter with a misdemeanor and time served.  DAs are like used car salesman, and will be impressed by your pluck.
  • Phrases like, “It wasn’t worth that much” and “He had it coming,” should only be said in open court while on the record.
  • Yelling, screaming, and pitching a fit are almost always the right decision.
  • As a last resort, get your mom to call the DA for you. She’s probably a class act.

Hope you’re well stocked in cigarettes,


Apples and Oranges

Dear Ask a Prosecutor,
I’m an experienced civil attorney who’d like to get into the criminal defense world. I haven’t done any criminal work, at all, ever, and thank god the bar had no criminal essays because I would have failed hard. Any advice on my new career move?

Like A Newborn

Dear Like A Newborn,
I can’t stress this enough: don’t do it. The best case scenario is that you end up committing massive IAC and sending some stupid kid to prison when all he needed was probation. The worst case scenario is that you say the wrong thing and a gangbanger shoots you in the face. But you’re probably going to do it anyway, so here are some grudging tips:

  • Practicing civil law is just like criminal. File as many motions as possible, object to everything, and act like an arrogant douchebag. These traits will result in the judge respecting you and the prosecutor wanting to give you a better deal.
  • Show up for every hearing at 11am. This is especially important if you have a preliminary hearing with more than 10 civilian witnesses.
  • Boast about how you’ve done 8 trials.
  • When in trial remember that the rules of evidence are merely suggestions.

Enjoy not billing hours for once,

This Is Why Everyone Hates You

Dear Ask a Prosecutor,
I’m currently in custody on several first degree burglaries.  I’m going to take a plea tomorrow, but I really hate the prosecutor. What can I do to make his life more difficult?

He’s The Asshole

Dear He’s The Asshole,
As I’m sure you know, making your own lawyer miserable is a simple task. What you may not know is that you can easily make the prosecutor’s life difficult with little to no effort. Here are some great ways to do that:

  • Take as long as possible to do anything. There’s nothing a prosecutor hates more than having to sit around while a defendant asks for the twentieth time why the judge won’t reduce his bail by $200,000.
  • When pleading guilty say, “I’m not guilty, but I’ll plead anyway.”
  • After your plea, immediately move to withdraw your plea. This is especially effective in cases where you have several codefendants who plead to a package deal.
  • Try to fire your court appointed attorney at every juncture. If the court lets you, spend a couple of months as a pro per before deciding you don’t know what the hell you’re doing.
  • When in doubt, try to take off your underpants in the courtroom.

Just remember: if you’re going to intentionally piss one of us off, you better take a deal because God know you don’t want to get stuck at level 4.

Remember to pack a toothbrush,

Grief, Kinda

Dear Ask a Prosecutor,
I’m currently in custody on my third commercial burglary. There’s just something about the fluorescent glow  of liquor stores in the middle of the night. I can’t help myself.  Anyway, somehow I keep getting the same prosecutor on all of my cases, and his demeanor has changed drastically over the last few years. Not only that, he’s trying to send me to prison for a really long time.  What’s the deal?

Learned My Lesson

Dear Learned My Lesson,
What you have to understand is that 90% of prosecutors just want to get the file off of their desk.  We mostly want to plead cases, and if it has to be tried so be it, but for god’s sake just get it off the desk. When we see the same person keep coming back over and over it’s like we never got rid of the original case.  When prosecutors encounter defendants they go through the following five stages:

  1. Ambivalence: “What’s this? Another guy walked into Kmart and tried to steal a DVD player? (To defense attorney) What does he want?”
  2. Frustration: “This guy wants to be a thief/drug dealer/gangbanger but he’s godawful at it.  I’ll give him probation, but tell him to either stop breaking the law or move to another county.”
  3. Anger:  “What the #$@! did I say last time? He wants probation? @#$# you. Prison or trial.”
  4. Pure Liquid Hate: “I will arrest his family. I will bring in every one of his stupid priors. I will raise his bail to $1,000,000. I will call him a vile, destructive drain on society in front of dozens of people. I will do everything in my power to revoke his OR, issue new warrants, file new cases, and make his life a living hell.”
  5. Amusement: “Oh man, Mr. Defendant’s back? That guy just won’t stop! What a moron! (Laugh, shake head ruefully, walk away)”

It sounds like you’re in stage 3, trending towards stage 4.  So you need to make a choice: stop breaking the law, or break so many more laws that it goes from infuriating to hilarious.

Enjoy prison,

Do And Do Not Do II: Thunder Down Under

Dear Ask a Prosecutor,
I’ve committed several awful crimes and the police know I did it. However, they don’t know where I am. Do you have any advice on how to keep it that way?

Topical Humor

Dear Topical Humor,
Of course! Hiding from the police is one of the great unsung criminal traditions. Here are some suggestions on what to do, and what not to do:

  • DO buy a hoodie sweatshirt. Plastic surgery, laser tattoo removal, and growing facial hair all pale in comparison to a good hoodie sweatshirt
  • DO NOT taunt the victims of your crimes or their families. You know, unless they’re punk ass bitches. If so, do it in writing, preferably using snail mail with a return address.
  • DO subscribe to Netflix using your real name
  • DO NOT call the police to complain about the baby crying next door. However, see above re: punk ass bitches.
  • DO move somewhere more primitive, like Pakistan or Idaho.
  • DO NOT move into a gigantic mansion with three armed guards and no phone or Internet. They’ll find you, and you’ll have to go out for porn.

U-S-A! U-S-A!

Wall Street

Dear Ask a Prosecutor,
I’m a defense attorney representing a guy accused of robbery. He’s guilty as sin, a complete douchebag, and  his parents already paid me. In other words, I’m over this case.  The DA is offering a sweetheart deal but my client refuses to budge. How can I get out of losing money for a week doing a trial?

In The Red

Dear In The Red,
Wow, you’re being asked to do the job you’re paid for. What a conundrum. God forbid that a private defense attorney take out a bad case once a decade, thus depriving him of buying a bigger set of breasts for his fourth wife.  Here are some ways to get out of it.

  • Go in chambers and complain about how stupid your client is. Maybe the judge will declare a doubt.
  • Bitch and moan at the DA until your unrelenting obnoxiousness finally convinces him to give your guy probation.
  • Continue the case to gather evidence until everyone involved dies of old age.
  • Invent a conflict that gives you no choice but to beg off.

If you are forced to go to trial, remember to be as much of an obstructionist as possible.

Have fun with your divorce lawyer,

Move to Oregon

Dear Ask a Prosecutor,
I’m a career criminal who keeps getting caught. As you can imagine, my record isn’t fantastic. I could stop committing crimes, but let’s be realistic: I just really like to break the law. However, every time I go to court, the prosecutor keeps talking to the judge about my criminal history. That’s not fair! What can I say to get the judge to see my point of view?

Same Plan, Same Result

Dear Same Plan, Same Result,
I agree. It’s absolutely ridiculous to think that someone who has stolen, sold drugs, drove drunk, or beat his wife some time in the past might steal, sell drugs, drive drunk, or beat his wife some time in the future. Here are some suggestions on arguments to help get past your RAP sheet:

  • “It’s not moral turpitude if I said I was sorry.”
  • “I only plead guilty because the DA was pretty.”
  • “That wasn’t me, it was my brother, who’s coincidentally the same height, weight, and age as me, and who also has the same fingerprints.”
  • “Mulligan.”

Enjoy 25 to life,