Interviewer: What did you see is the mind of prosecutors that maybe people don’t understand, what’s their goal?
Tom Chaves: Different prosecutor’s offices have different points of emphasis. So, for example, in a large urban county, the point of emphasis will typically be focusing on major crimes involving shootings, major drug dealing crimes, sex offenses and gang related activity. One of my offices is in Somerville New Jersey in Somerset County which is a small county which has a relatively low crime rate.
The Prosecutors of Somerset Generally County Consider Every Infraction or Crime as a Serious Offense
As a result of that, in this county, the county prosecutor’s office generally treats every infraction or crime as a very serious offense. And as a result of that, they will indict people for crimes that typically, in other counties, people would not be indicted for in a felony level type offense but rather would be referred back to the municipal court of the particular town where the alleged crime occurred. Its hard to generalize with respect to how different prosecutor’s offices handle cases. In addition to that, even within offices, you have a diversity of prosecutors who, on an individual basis, will take different approaches to handling and prosecuting different types of cases.
Common Misconceptions Regarding Prosecutors and Prosecution in New Jersey
Interviewer: What are some misconceptions that people have about prosecutors and the prosecution? Now that you’re defense attorney, what insights do you have into what makes them tick? How do you work with them in a way to get better results for your clients?
Tom Chaves: The main misconception that people have is that the outcome of the case depends on whether the lawyer knows the prosecutor or knows the judge.
It Doesn’t Matter if the Lawyer is Well Known Amongst Judges and Prosecutors or Not, The Competence of a Lawyer Depends on his Expertise
What people need is a very competent lawyer who will aggressively defend the case and whether they know the judge or prosecutor or whether they don’t know the judge or prosecutor is much less important than the degree of skill that they have and the amount of time and effort they put into the case.