This June 23rd is the Democratic primary here in New York. It is time to vote in the race between Mimi Rocah and incumbent Anthony A. Scarpino Jr. to determine who will become the Democratic nominee for Westchester County District Attorney. The Mount Vernon Advocate, as a platform for voter education, has set out to answer the question some of you may be wondering, What exactly is a District Attorney?
The District Attorney is like the captain on a team of prosecutors. Westchester County, as most counties, elects its own District Attorney who serves for 4 years. According to the 2019 Annual Report Westchester’s DA office had 204 employees: 1 District Attorney, 121 Asst District Attorneys also referred to as Prosecutors, 34 Investigators, and 84 support staff.
District Attorney’s make a huge difference in people’s lives, communities, and the criminal legal system. When someone is charged with a crime the DA’s office has the power to either prosecute the case, send someone to a program or drug treatment, or dismiss the case. Also, it is the DA who initiates the request for bail. The DA can also ask a judge to revoke a person’s bail and take them back into custody, even if they previously made bail.
The DA’s office works with the police and sometimes private investigators to collect and produce the evidence they need to prosecute their cases. The District Attorney can seize property, including money, even if the person hasn’t been convicted. It’s called Civil asset forfeiture and it is a way for prosecutors to take property and money that law enforcement officers believe is connected to criminal activity.
District Attorneys also have a powerful method to help move cases into a resolution known as mandatory minimums. DA’s use these mandatory minimum sentences to obtain a guilty plea from a person who doesn’t want to run the risk of facing a prolonged mandatory sentence after trial.
As the top prosecutor, DA’s also help set policies for law enforcement and criminal justice procedures. The District Attorney is an extremely important and powerful position in the justice system. Make sure you follow the campaigns of Anthony A. Scarpino Jr. and Mimi Rocah and vote this June 23rd. This is your opportunity to be a part of the future for Mount Vernon and Westchester Counties criminal justice system.