Kush Arora on Criminal Cases in Prince George’s County
The following is an excerpt from an interview with Maryland criminal defense attorney Kush Arora.
What is unique about representing individuals charged with criminal offenses in the Prince George’s County court system?
Kush Arora: Being charged with a crime in Prince George’s County is different than almost anywhere else in the state because this is a county that is overwhelmed with criminal cases. The goal of the State’s Attorney’s office and the court system is to come to resolution on as many of those cases as it can. As long as a client is not dealing with a violent criminal act, we are usually in a situation where we’re working with the prosecutor’s office to come to some kind of mutually-agreeable resolution, and it’s not going to be a very contentious situation.
Crimes of violence are prosecuted seriously no matter what county you’re in, but, when talking about some of the misdemeanors that we see often, like possession of controlled dangerous substances, DUI, and other minor offenses, the criminal prosecution of those cases is not quite as serious in Prince George’s County, because of the underfunding and their lack of staff available to prosecute them.
What can someone expect if they have been charged with a criminal offense in Prince George’s County?
Kush Arora: They can expect to be charged and prosecuted on a court date, in the same way that they would be anywhere else, on a docket with about 70 or 80 other cases scheduled for the same day, and a very busy prosecutor that is attempting to resolve those cases with the defense attorney in the best way possible.
What a defendant should never expect is to be dealing with somebody who’s any less intelligent than in any other county. The prosecutors are top-notch and so are the judges. Everybody is well aware of what the laws are and how they should be applied, but they are more willing to come to resolution by way of things like diversion, which simply means doing drug classes to dismiss a first-time possession case, for example, or doing community service hours to dismiss a first-time shoplifting offense. There is an attitude in Prince George’s County that if it’s not a violent crime and it’s your first time around the block, then we don’t want to punish you for the rest of your life by you having a criminal charge on your record. We want to teach you a lesson, but we understand that people make mistakes and will give you one “get out of jail free” card. However, you’ve got to do some community service or some drug education and work for it.