Sunday, April 26, 2009

Planning on going to Contra Costa

"District Attorney Robert Kochly also said that beginning May 4, his office will no longer prosecute felony drug cases involving smaller amounts of narcotics. That means anyone caught with less than a gram of methamphetamine or cocaine, less than 0.5 grams of heroin and fewer than five pills of ecstasy, OxyContin or Vicodin won't be charged. "

Okay, that is a very reasonable stance in these economic times.

"People who are suspected of misdemeanor drug crimes, break minor traffic laws, shoplift, trespass or commit misdemeanor vandalism will also be in the clear. Those crimes won't be prosecuted, either."

Huh? Does this include traffic tickets? (major source of revenue) I got to say, if there is no risk of tickets, how many stop-signs in urban neighborhoods will get blown through without people reducing speed much at all? While I don't get my undies up in a bunch about a bit of tagging (misdemeanor vandalism) I suspect that once people figure out that shopkeepers cannot kick them out for causing a ruckus, and that shoplifting won't be prosecuted, there is going to be a big outcry.

"Kochly said prosecutors will still consider charging suspects with certain misdemeanors, including domestic violence, driving under the influence, firearms offenses, vehicular manslaughter, sex crimes and assault with a deadly weapon."

HUH? Sex crimes is a broad category, I admit, but that one is surprising. The fact that vehicular manslaughter may or may not result in charges, well, that is going dovetail really well with not worrying about bothersome traffic laws. Same with firearms offenses and assaults with deadly weapons, that is pretty surprising. Yes, technically, the prosecutors always reserve the right to not prosecute due to mitigating circumstances or lack of evidence or whatever, but this place sounds like it is going to be going to hell in a hand-basket at very high rates.

I also wonder why they bothered to announce it. Seems to me you'd not release that kind of info and most people would still think laws were in effect.

Maybe it's designed to get people to start committing all sorts of crimes, and all of a sudden 'hey, we decided to go back to the old way, here are your 147 speeding tickets!'

Hey Gus, is this where you plan on moving to?

http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=%2Fc%2Fa%2F2009%2F04%2F21%2FBAK9176EGO.DTL&feed=rss.bayarea

7 comments:

Gus said...

Based on the first sentence of the story, particularly this line: "because of budget cuts" I'm assuming there is a dash of A Modest Proposal to this. If people are serious about wanting EVERY crime prosecuted there must be the resources to do this. And for there to be resources there must be taxes and there must be budget.

That's not to say that the cops will stop arresting people for this stuff.

andrew said...

a modest proposal would be laxing up on minor drug crimes, graffitti, public urination, etc.

But not traffic violations.

Not all motor vehicle fatalities are related to traffic violations, but a significant amount of them are...as well as it is a nice revenue stream.

Not shoplifting either, or other minor theft.

And definately no 'maybe' on vehicular manslaughter

avk said...

Single incidents of shoplifting haven't been prosecuted in downtown Minneapolis for at least ten years. It's more efficient to let them rack up 5 or 10 offenses and try them all at once. People who only shoplift once get away with it, but if a shoplifter like that exists, they aren't the problem. The net still pulls in pretty much everyone it would have gotten anyway with a generous savings in paperwork and court costs.

Gus said...

Besides traffic tickets aren't prosecuted. You're fined and you pay. No need for the District Attorney to get involved.

andrew said...

I guess I am not much up on how shoplifting is prosecuted. I do agree that there is a big difference between the single offense offenders and the repeat offenders. However, the article doesn't say anything about continuing to prosecute repeat offenders.

Also Gus, I am pretty sure traffic tickets beyond parking tickets ARE prosecuted. It's just you can plea guilty with no need to appear if you choose to pay within a given window of time. Again, it would have been strategic for them to keep silent about the change, as most people would keep on pleading guilty by sending in the fine. Now, if a trip to the courthouse means you dodge a $100-200 fine, don't have your insurance go up, and possibly stay one step further away from having your license revoked, I think a lot of people would make the time to do that.

Gus said...

I guess you've never gotten a ticket. Nine times out of ten if you go to the courthouse you do get off of the ticket, because the police officer (who is legally required to be there) never is. Thing is nobody can afford to take a day off of work (it's a net loss in most cases) so they pay the fine.

andrew said...

i've gotten tickets. IIRC it clearly spells out that paying is a method of pleading guilty.

Yes, in my college days when time was cheap and money tight, I did try that very technique, hearing that rumor before. It did not work. I am sure it works some, but if it did work 9 out of 10, then tons of people would do that.

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