ABC's Jim Avila's Interview With Andrew Thomas, District Attorney, Maricopa County

JIM AVILA: It sounds a bit like you're trying to have it both ways. Because you're saying…you…you didn't charge him with any …you…and at the end of the day, you let him go. But you…you…the final…at the end of the day, he wasn't charged with any child pornography. None. He was … he …

ANDREW THOMAS: Right.

JIM AVILA: He…

ANDREW THOMAS: Well, but he was charged with solicitation to furnish uh…to furnish…

JIM AVILA: (Overlap) He bought a Playboy magazine …

ANDREW THOMAS: … sexual exploitation…

JIM AVILA: …and took it to school and showed it to other 16 year olds.

ANDREW THOMAS: That's what he pled to, but …but that's…that's a… a little …uh, that requires a little bit of explanation. It is very typical in plea agreements…what you have to do is, if you decided okay, we want to try to resolve this case because the criminal charges were originally brought… we want to try to resolve it and specifically, you bring the charges down.

And what you have to find is an appropriate uh, offense at that level of felony so that you can …can enter into the plea agreement. That's typically how the…the decision making process is done. So um, although I wasn't privy to that decision making process, it was a…a line prosecutor who handled tip…I've done that. And typically, what you do is you would find in this case, a classics on designated felony where there's a factual basis so that … I mean, you can't just pick any…uh, any classic felony.

It has to be something that relates to the crime as alleged so that the defendant can go forward and admit guilt in court. And…and I should note, not to put too fine a point on this, but this defendant did plead guilty in a court of law.

JIM AVILA: To?

ANDREW THOMAS: To …to… to the solicitation charge, which is a …class six (Inaudible)… undesignated felony.

JIM AVILA: Which was…

ANDREW THOMAS: And…

JIM AVILA: …showing a Playboy magazine to another 16 year old at school.

ANDREW THOMAS: Well…and …and…

JIM AVILA: (Overlap) Is that child pornography?

ANDREW THOMAS: (Inaudible)…well, no, but that…that's the whole point of this. That when you…you're trying to resolve a case, you want to reach the right outcome so that there is justice. We started up this conversation by talking about these tremendous hammers and people can be sent for too many years in prison.

Now we have, I guess, the accusation is well, maybe there wasn't enough. That's the whole point of…of prosecutorial discretion in the judicial system. It's finding a just outcome in an individual case. That was the balance we tried to strike in this case. I think that the line attorney who handled it, handled the case properly and uh, quite frankly, the defense attorney would have been ethically bound not to allow his client to uh, plead guilty to a crime he hadn't committed.

And the judge would not have been allowed by law to accept the uh, guilty plea in open court if he did not think there was a factual basis uh, to accept that plea.

JIM AVILA: Let me in fact, read you what the Judge said about that plea agreement. He said as you were negotiating the plea agreement here…the reason why this agreement took place is because you couldn't prove the things you just alleged now, or else we wouldn't be here.

ANDREW THOMAS: Well, I…I wasn't there to…to hear that.

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