Being a prosecuting attorney is not an easy job. Ms. Culwell's job places her in a position of not only prosecuting those accused of crimes, but also making sure that the constitutional rights of those individuals are protected.
Ms. Culwell must take the information she receives from our Sheriff's Office and determine if charges should be filed. There is consideration given to the evidence that was found by law enforcement, victims and witnesses who are willing to come forward and to the circumstances surrounding an alleged crime. Criminal charges are not always filed.
A prosecuting attorney is not going to make friends with people involved in a criminal incident. Victims sometimes feel the prosecutor is not being hard enough. Some victims know the accused and are upset that charges are being pursued at all. The families of the accused are upset because they are sure that their loved one would never do what they are accused of regardless of the evidence.
Each case is evaluated to determine the best settlement. An offer to settle is made on each case and the majority of cases do settle. It is up to the defendant whether or not to accept the offer. The defendant has the constitutional right to a trial. Ms. Culwell cannot infringe on that right, nor will she simply roll over and dismiss the case if the defendant refuses to settle.
The cases that go to trial are usually the difficult cases. Cases where the evidence is overwhelming against the defendant usually settle in a guilty plea. Cases where there is insufficient evidence are dismissed. The cases that go to trial are cases where a defendant refuses to settle and there is sufficient evidence to proceed. The case is then in the hands of the jury.
Rea Culwell and her office have worked hard to make Columbia County a safer community. She is intelligent, ethical and hard working.
June L. Riley,