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What is “overcharging” and why do prosecutors do it?

On Behalf of | Sep 30, 2022 | Civil Rights

If you receive a criminal charge, you at least have the ability to defend yourself with the hope that you can emerge from the trial with your rights intact. However, you might feel despair upon finding that the prosecutor is piling up additional charges against you in a process known as overcharging.

Prosecutors wield the power to decide what charges to bring against a defendant, and they may add charges even knowing that you might effectively refute them. It can be scary if this happens to you, but you can protect yourself by understanding the process and knowing your options when it occurs.

How do prosecutors benefit from overcharging?

Overcharging is a technique that allows prosecutors to assert power in pursuit of the outcome they desire. They know that if you see multiple charges stacked against you, you will be more likely to accept a plea bargain. You might not plead guilty to the original crime under normal circumstances, but you might do so if the prosecutor agrees to dismiss the additional charges they bring against you.

What can you do when overcharged?

If you know that you are innocent of the additional charges that the prosecutor stacks against you, then it might seem that fighting against them is a natural choice. This is easier said than done when you have many charges to navigate and a prosecutor who is adamant to see you fail. Your best option is to build a strong defense team that can help you overcome these seemingly overwhelming odds.

Prosecutors engage in overcharging as a matter of discrimination, bias, or simple pride. It is, however, a morally questionable use of their power that you should not take lying down.