BU's Advanced CSI Course: Week 5
Legal and Trial Implications
After the police have locked up the suspect, the alleged committer of the crime, it's up to the District Attorney's Office to prosecute or release the accused.
Assistant DA Gentile, Jr. has worked as a prosecutor for 15 years with the trial process. His area covers 54 cities and towns and includes 20 colleges in urban and rural areas. He said that there are about 40,000 crimes committed in this district per year. Only a small percentage actually go to trial. Most cases are resolved by plea bargaining as defendants don't want to risk appearing before a judge or jury.
Interestingly, even the best experts available to testify cannot state that their conclusions are fact but rather that their conclusions are their opinion.
Gentile explained that our system has evolved through case law which sets precedence for particular crimes. The case law is used to litigate similar cases until new precedence is set by the higher courts in the system.
Gentile enjoys working in the DA's office as every day is different. He has the opportunity to learn so much about so many facets of life in order to be able to draw out pertinent information from the experts he calls to the stand. The downside of the job, if any, is getting called out in the middle of the night to go to the scene of a serious crime. Having been to the scene of the crime while everything is still in place helps him to later interpret evidence.
Bill Powers, retired from the State Police, spoke on the relationship between the DA's office and the officers who bring a suspect to the DA only to have that suspect released for whatever reason. Powers explained that "knowing" the suspect is guilty and having sufficient evidence to convict the suspect can be two different things. It's the DA's office that must decide which cases are strong enough to convict in today's highly technical court system.