OREGON DISTRICT ATTORNEYS

ASSOCIATION

JOSEPH LUCAS
HARNEY COUNTY DISTRICT ATTORNEY

WHY DID YOU BECOME A PROSECUTOR?

When I was in law school and working as a law clerk, a senior attorney gave me some advice: “We are the State, we always do the right thing.” That is when it clicked in my mind that I definitely wanted to be a prosecutor. I am thankful that as a prosecutor, I have the privilege of having a job where the answer to every single decision I am faced with can be resolved by asking, “What is the right thing to do?” As the District Attorney, my mission is to promote the welfare, health, and safety of society. 

 

WHAT IS THE MOST REWARDING PART OF YOUR WORK?

My role as a prosecutor is to promote public safety. Although it is an adversarial process, a criminal trial is more than that.  It is also a truth-seeking process. Furthermore, I firmly believe that the ideas of “winning” and “losing” have no place in the criminal justice system, because a criminal case is not a contest, game, etc. The goal of criminal prosecutions is to hold individuals accountable for their actions and, most importantly, to prevent further harm.

 

WHAT IS THE HARDEST PART OF YOUR WORK?

The hardest part of my job is knowing that a person is going to end up in the criminal justice system because they are unwilling and/or unable to accept the help that is being offered to them now. Too often, there is nothing we can do about getting someone into treatment until a law is broken, and that’s not optimal.

WHAT DO YOU WANT PEOPLE TO KNOW ABOUT YOU AND THE WORK YOU DO?

I want people to know that as a prosecutor, we work hard to reduce crime. However, sometimes people don’t understand the limitations that prosecutors have. They often think we have unlimited power. We can’t prevent someone from breaking the law. We don’t convict people. We don’t sentence people. Our sentencing recommendations are guided and determined by law makers, and there are limitations to what we can do with the laws on the books.

DO YOU HAVE VOLUNTEER ACTIVITIES IN WHICH YOU PARTICIPATE?

My son is involved in wrestling, so I do my best to support and coach him and his teammates.

OF THE WORK OF YOUR OFFICE, WHAT MAKES YOU THE MOST PROUD?

It is really satisfying to see offenders that have reformed themselves and are living a healthier and happier life. It also makes my team and me really proud when we can help victims move forward in a positive way with their lives.

Diversion Programs and/or Alternative Sentencing Programs and Community Engagement Programs. 

Depending on an offender’s criminal history and the specific facts of the case, some first-time domestic violence offenders are offered a “deferred adjudication” resolution (where my office agrees that they can enter a guilty plea upfront, but if they successfully complete all their probation conditions with no violations then their case can be dismissed without a conviction).

 

Our county also operates a Substance Abuse Treatment Court, which guides and aides high-risk high-needs offenders in reforming their lives. Typically offenders are placed into Treatment Court through my office’s plea negotiations.

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OREGON DISTRICT ATTORNEYS ASSOCIATION
8 N State Street, Suite 8 | Lake Oswego, OR 97034
Phone: 503-303-5071 | Fax: 503-210-1533

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