Many factors determine suspect’s release

Circuit Court

KHON2 wanted to know what the process is when it comes to deciding whether to charge someone with a crime or let them go.

It’s ultimately up to city prosecutors to decide whether or not to charge a suspect.

In the case involving the stabbing death of newspaper seller Thaddeus Pirga Jr., Gary Landis was arrested as the suspect seven months after Pirga was murdered.

It appeared to be a big break in the case last week, but Landis was released two days later pending further investigation.

Once someone is arrested, prosecutors have up to 48 hours to charge him or her or else police have to release the person.

“Prosecutors have an internal policy charging somebody immediately if they are a flight risk or they are a danger to the community,” said attorney Victor Bakke.

Landis does not have a lengthy rap sheet. He has only two convictions: one for robbery and the other for drugs.

But he’s actually still on probation for the robbery conviction.

Sometimes prosecutors don’t charge a suspect if they feel there’s not enough evidence.

“If they had charged him immediately, it would’ve started his right to a speedy trial, which would’ve meant they had to get him to trial within six months of the day he was arrested. That’s the biggest concern for the prosecutors is that speedy trial clock starts running as soon as they charge,” said Bakke.

Another option is if prosecutors are having a hard time deciding whether or not to charge someone. They can take the case to a grand jury and have a group of people decide whether or not there’s enough evidence to indict or charge the suspect.

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