By District Attorney Ryan Sayers
2023 Vol. 52
And so we have reached the end of 2023 and the 52nd Q&A with the DA. Throughout this year, I have discussed many topics relating to the Office of the District Attorney and answered a number of questions to hopefully help you better understand the inner workings of the criminal justice system.
When our Founding Fathers wrote the Constitution and Bill of Rights, they wanted to protect the people from baseless searches and charges brought by the government.
This was an absolute necessity to them because they saw how the King of England abused the criminal justice system to prosecute enemies of the Crown or to convict someone with minimal proof.
Thus, the laws in the United States and Pennsylvania were put in place to protect the rights of the accused and to help ensure that the government did not overstep its bounds.
That is why the burden was and is placed on the government to overcome the presumption of innocence by proof of guilt beyond a reasonable doubt, which is no small feat.
Over the course of the last 51 weeks, it is my hope that you have learned that people cannot go to jail for life for a DUI or aggravated assault or drug trafficking or corruption of minors; that sometimes the evidence is not sufficient for a charge to move forward in the system and will get dismissed or withdrawn; that the judges and prosecutors are limited by sentencing guidelines; that the DA does not handle civil matters; and that investigations can be very complex endeavors.
Also, I hope that you have been able to deduce the immense responsibility that rests on all prosecutors’ shoulders. As many courts and scholars have stated, “it is the duty of a prosecutor is to seek justice, not convictions.”
Each time a prosecutor picks up a case, he/she has to look at the evidence, take into consideration the wishes of victims, determine what is best to protect society, speak with the law enforcement officers involved, weigh all the options and possible outcomes, assess the arguments of the defense, and then make a decision that achieves justice for that specific case and protects society.
Being a prosecutor is a great duty, privilege and honor! It is a duty, privilege and honor to serve the community by holding criminals accountable for their actions.
All prosecutors work hard each and every day with law enforcement officers to help protect society from the evils that exist in this world.
Thank you for reading these articles throughout the year. From time to time, I will have a special Q&A with the DA to address legal questions that might pop-up in the news that need some explanation or clarification, but this is the last regular weekly article.
Ryan Sayers is the elected District Attorney of Clearfield County, Pennsylvania.
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