I read that many laws are unenforced. What did the DA do to decide what to enforce and what not?

For example. Say some states have laws against cohabitation. Say a DA choose to enforce the normally unenforced laws. What happens? The DA don't get reelected?

Or look at this case


Some kids got bullied. DA don't press charge. Someone record the bullying, and she gets charged.


Also I've heard that many fraud are simply not enforced by laws. These are samples

Why are some obvious fraudster not in jail?

What factors do DA do when deciding when to press charge?

Bribes? I don't think so. Not in US. But that's got to be something and it doesn't look like justice to me.

The result varies from jurisdiction to jurisdiction. In, Indonesia, my guess is

  1. Bribe. Before Jokowi it's common for vengeful party to just pay DA to do his job. Defendant often have more incentive to pay DA to look the other way.
  2. Political opinion. Ahok is prosecuted because so many wants him down.
  3. Most fraud is not prosecuted. I don't know why.

In US, what happens?

Jurisdiction specific or "in general" answer is fine.

Perhaps, a better more useful version of this question is

How to motivate DA to prosecute or not prosecute a certain case?

Jurisdiction vary. I know.

Note: I've heard in US, DA is an elected office. So it seems that DA's motivation is to pick cases that gets him elected. That's the kind of thing I would like to know. What's the "politic" and "incentive" behind prosecuting a case.

Saying that there is a large backlog of cases is not "clear" enough for me because it's a "collective" problem. The one that makes decisions is the DA. Why should he care about backlog? If prosecuting a case leads to world war that is not HIS problem. It's societies' problem. Because that gets him elected? Now it makes more sense.

I need reasons that's why is it more profitable for a DA/cops to decide one case over another.

Basically I am looking for incentives or cynical reasons those people have when prosecuting someone

  • The question in the title might not get downvoted, but the different examples and unsupported hearsay and the surmises are probably dragging it down. If you want answers on individual cases, you can ask individual questions. – David Thornley Sep 10 '18 at 20:24
  • So to answer your question about the bully recorder getting charged with a crime, it's important to understand that in some states, it is illegal to record someone without first notifying them. New York is a 2 party consent state, meaning that the mom cannot secretly record her child's bullies, as she needs to inform them that she is recording them. There is more clear evidence that the mom broke the law than the girls (as Mom's defense may render the evidence insufficient to charge the bully.). – hszmv Nov 8 '18 at 22:11
  • I think I see the issue here. Layman like me see bullying as more obviously evil than secretly recording. A lawyer, however, knows the law. Hence, recording is as obviously a crime to a lawyer than to typical layman. And then, proofing a recording is much easier than proofing bullying. Is the kid getting beaten up? It says bullying. It could be a mere verbal bullying which is obviously not illegal. – user4951 Nov 9 '18 at 0:54
  • In a nutshell, a DA has limited resources and has to decide how best to use them when not every case can be prosecuted to the fullest, because there are too many of them. The way those choices get made is more a matter of politics than law. Fraud cases, for example, are usually prosecuted only when lawsuits are an inadequate remedy to those harmed by it (e.g. because the perp has few assets and little income and so is uncollectible). Similarly, a DA may not enforce a cohabitation law because they may doubt it is constitutional, or may doubt that there is harm prevented by enforcing it. – ohwilleke Mar 6 '19 at 0:00
  • I understand. I am thinking of getting advices on how to get someone prosecuted. For example, should I call the media? Should I call journalists? What can a vengeful victim do to increase chance of prosecution – user4951 Mar 7 '19 at 6:46

Your question has likely been downvoted because it is overly broad, since the correct answer could vary from jurisdiction to jurisdiction.

However, factors that typically weigh on such decisions include the court docket (meaning, courts are already overscheduled and if prosecutors were charging everybody who went 56 miles per hour in a 55 mile per hour zone, it would be even more so - and yes, I realize prosecutors aren't actually prosecuting traffic fines, it's just an example); whether they think they have enough evidence to bring and win the case; whether they think they can press the potential defendant for information to get an even more important/dangerous alleged criminal (e.g., getting a street drug dealer to possibly flip and testify against someone higher up the drug trade hierarchy); and other things...

The first few pages of this article should help shed some more light on this topic for you.

  • I'd bet 95 percent of law.SE has questions where "the correct answer could vary from jurisdiction to jurisdiction." What earned this one in particular a downvote? – bdb484 Sep 10 '18 at 1:31
  • Eh ya precisely. Actually do people hit hate me or what? – user4951 Sep 10 '18 at 11:43
  • It’s just too general and not question about “the law.” The answer could lie in so many places, including personal beliefs, politics, agency funding, the community’s culture, and more. Or sometimes it can seem highly arbitrary. I mean, I did give you an answer and a link to an article specifically on this topic, so I really was just letting you know why I believe you received the downvotes, not speaking as to whether the downvotes were warranted or not. – A.fm. Sep 10 '18 at 15:24
  • @bdb484 - right, which is why people who post questions are often asked to indicate which jurisdiction they are seeking an answer for, so as to end up with an answer that is as specific as possible. – A.fm. Sep 10 '18 at 15:26
  • Your answers don't explain why law.stackexchange.com/questions/31197/… are not prosecuted. It seems that the jury would obviously convict. It's obviously fraud. – user4951 Sep 10 '18 at 19:43

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