Please comment if I need to separate out some of these "1-liner" questions.

Can these 3 parties (prosecutor, defender (public or private), and defendant all talk together at the same time, or the defendant listen while the prosecutor and defender talk?

How can a defendant gain a better sense of the prosecutor and what he or she really wants?

I'm also trying to understand, (perhaps a separate question, feel free to comment/advise), when a defendant represents himself, is he playing 2 roles with the prosecutor, i.e. "negotiator" and the regular defendant role?

[United States, Arizona]

  • Yes, United States, state of Arizona Commented Aug 23, 2018 at 19:30

2 Answers 2

  1. Assuming you're talking about the United States, there would generally not be anything improper about the prosecutor, defense counsel, and the defendant meeting to discuss a case, and this happens thousands of times a day across the country as the parties discuss motions, evidence, and plea bargains.

  2. To get a sense of what the prosecutor wants, start by asking your lawyer. If you aren't represented, talk to people who work with (and against) her -- court personnel, defense attorneys, people who have been prosecuted by her, etc. But honestly, the answer is almost always going to be the same: Because most prosecutors have gigantic caseloads, they want cases to go away quickly and with as little paperwork as possible. Serial rapists are one thing, but for petty offenses, most prosecutors seem very amenable to drastically lowering the charged offense and recommending minimal punishments.

  3. A defendant representing himself wears both the defendant hat and the lawyer hat, which is itself a collection of hats: researcher, writer, investigator, evaluator, counselor, advocate. That's a lot of hats to wear, especially with your freedom on the line, which is just one of the reasons that representing one's self is virtually always a mistake.

  • Thanks for your answer. Per #2, I understand some defense attorneys purposely bury the prosecutor with paperwork. Do you have experience in how this affects prosecutors ... e.g. in pursuing stiffer sentences ... giving up for a lighter sentence ... or other ways? Commented Aug 23, 2018 at 19:41
  • Different prosecutors react differently. I can't recall a case where I felt like the prosecutor pushed for a stiffer a sentence, but I definitely recall many cases where it very obviously resulted in a lighter sentence.
    – bdb484
    Commented Aug 23, 2018 at 21:05

The only forbidden contact between these three parties occurs when the Prosecutor initiates a meeting with the Defendant without his defense attorney present. The Defendant may initiate such meetings (and by doing so, will have to waive his right to the meeting... likely signing some forms), though a good prosecutor may still elect to not accept some meeting so as to not give an impression that he initiated.

The Defense Attorney may initiate a meeting with the Prosecutor so long as his client consents to the meeting and he discloses the discussion. The Prosecution may also initiate meetings with the defense attorney without the client present ("Speak to my Lawyer"). This will happen for any number of reasons. Under Bradey disclosures, the Prosecution will have to contact the defense to turn over all evidence they have on the defendant (including evidence of innocence of the defendant).

In your case, since the defense attorney and the defendant are one in the same (a term in the legal community called "an idiot"), the prosecution may talk to the idiot as if he was the defense attorney.

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