Dallas, TX, USA, 04/30/2019 / Story.KISSPR.com /
Dallas, TX / April 30, 2019 / — In the aftermath of the beating of L’Daijonique Lee by Austin Sheffield in Deep Ellum in Dallas, which was captured on video and widely viewed, a number of controversies have arisen. One was the decision of the Dallas Police Department to recommend charges against Ms. Lee for damaging Mr. Shuffield’s truck. To the extent that it matters to anyone, the Dallas Police Chief who ultimately signed off on the decision, Reneé Hall, is a black woman.
The Dallas County District Attorney’s Office ultimately decided not to charge Ms. Lee, but some have been critical of DPD’s decision to recommend charges. As a criminal defense attorney and former federal prosecutor, I believe this criticism is misguided because it reflects a fundamental misunderstanding of the roles of the police and the District Attorney’s Office.
This is not to say that Ms. Lee should have been charged. It is only to say that the decision about whether to charge her was up to the District Attorney’s Office, and the DPD acted properly in presenting the case to the DA’s Office and leaving the charging decision up to them. This is how the system is supposed to work.
First, let’s discuss the roles of the police and the District Attorney’s Office. The police enforce the law. They investigate crimes and arrest people who have committed crimes. When they believe a crime has been committed, they report the facts to the District Attorney’s Office.
The District Attorney’s Office consists of lawyers. They analyze whether, under the law, the facts presented by the police constitute a crime, whether guilt can be proven in court beyond a reasonable doubt, and whether the case should be pursued in court in light of the office’s criminal justice objectives.
In other words, the police make an initial judgment about whether a crime has been committed and present the facts. The DA’s Office reviews the facts, the law, and the goals of the justice system, and decides whether to prosecute the case in court. In making that decision, the DA’s Office has wide discretion about whether or not to pursue a case in court.
Still, why as a criminal defense attorney in Dallas, do I believe the criticism of the DPD in the Deep Ellum Case is unwarranted?
About Attorney John Helms
Attorney John Helms is a federal criminal defense attorney in Dallas, TX. As a former federal prosecutor, he is uniquely positioned to evaluate cases from both sides and anticipate his opponents’ moves.
Defense Attorney John Helms
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