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Prosecutorial Discretion

Prosecutorial discretion is the authority of a prosecutor, or the prosecutor's or other office charged with enforcing a law, to decide whether and how to enforce the law. The outer boundary of such discretion is set by legal limitations on the prosecutor. Ideally, prosecutorial discretion will be exercised in accordance with considerations of fairness, equality, and public safety. However, often more mundane considerations, such as resource limitations, political pressures, or personal advancement, will dictate its exercise. While the term prosecutorial discretion is applied largely in the criminal justice context, administrative agencies with civil enforcement authorities also exercise such discretion.

The tension between the desire for uniform and consistent decision making on one hand and the need for flexibility to assure individualized treatment on the other shapes ...

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