Philadelphia’s District Attorney Impeached – What caused it? Why he won’t be removed and do criminal court judges have to accept negotiated plea agreements?
Recently, Philadelphia District Attorney, Larry Krasner, was impeached in Pennsylvania by the Commonwealth’s House of Representatives. While this has been seen as a political maneuver on the part of Republicans, it nevertheless occurred and so the process will move forward. Currently, Republicans in Pennsylvania hold the majority in the House (this will change in January 2023) and Larry Krasner is an elected Democrat District Attorney. Mr. Krasner has come under fire for various prosecutions involving police officers. His alleged acts form a basis of the impeachment charge, which accused him of “misbehavior in office”.
The Impeachment Vote
The House voted to impeach Krasner by a 107 to 85 vote which fell exclusively along party lines. Impeachment proponents believed it was necessary because DA Krasner had allegedly implemented various criminal justice reforms which contributed to Philadelphia’s current gun violence situation. In addition, the allegations claim that Krasner obstructed legislative committees investigating his office and mishandled criminal cases, including involving former Police Office, Ryan Powell. This officer’s case was recently dismissed.
While the House impeached Mr. Krasner, the Senate is the only legislative body within the Commonwealth who can remove him from office. The removal process requires that following a trial a two thirds majority vote for removal. Currently, Republicans hold 28 (21 Democrats and 1 Independent) of the 50 seats in the Pennsylvania Senate. This is well below the required two-thirds majority for removal. The impeachment, therefore, is seen as purely a political move by Republicans against Mr. Krasner. It is highly unlikely that Mr. Krasner will be removed from office.
What is the issue with Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner?
Krasner’s critics claim that he has implemented policies which have basically decriminalized crimes like petty theft, drug possession, and prostitution. Further, his critics claims that he has offered very favorable plea deals to violence felons and those convicted of illegal gun crimes in Philadelphia County.
It is important to keep in mind, however, that the District Attorney’s office across the Commonwealth and in other states have implemented polices and diversion programs to address these very common, but low-level criminal offenses. Many of Krasner’s policies focus on rehabilitation of persons addicted to drugs and alcohol as opposed to punishment deterrents. Further, Pennsylvania Court of Common Pleas and Municipal Court Judges in Philadelphia do not have to accept terms of any negotiated guilty plea put before them.
What is the role of a judge following plea negotiations?
While lawmakers can criticize Krasner, they have also simply ignored the fact that Judges routinely approve plea negotiations despite their ability to reject them. Judges are not required to accept plea agreements that they believe are not “in the best interest of justice.”
The role of the judges is far from insignificant when it comes to any plea. While Mr. Krasner may have instituted “progressive” policies there are still plenty of checks and balances available to ensure public safety and general order. Finally. Krasner won the election for district attorney by a wide margin and defeated candidates many who had considerable political backing from local leaders. Philadelphia voters who have an issue with Mr. Krasner should ask their neighbor their opinion on him.
There is very good chance that many of them voted for him or didn’t vote at all. Many, if not all of Philadelphia political leaders who criticized Krasner voted for him and therefore endorsed his policies. Mr. Krasner made no secret of his intentions prior to his election
Regardless of the District Attorney or the prosecutor, however, our law firm strives to achieve outstanding results for our clients and their families. If you’re charged with a crime, don’t rely on “progressive” policies but rather hire a criminal defense lawyer who will advocate for you!
Contact Our Criminal Defense Lawyers in PA & NJ
Please click here to contact our Philadelphia criminal defense lawyers. We offer free case reviews and serve the following areas in Pennsylvania and New Jersey, Atlantic City, Camden, Cherry Hill, Chester, Conshohocken, Doylestown, Media, Norristown, Philadelphia, Pottstown, Salem, Upper Darby, Upper Merion, Upper Providence, Vineland & Woodbury areas.