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Sharen Ghatan: Cooperation With Law Enforcement Is Key

August 2, 2012 - LOS ANGELES, CA

In a recent article, Forbes considered the stigma attached to cooperating with law enforcement. Oftentimes, the individuals who are dubbed "snitches" and "rats" are those who are simply looking out for their best interest -- and the best interest of their families; however, these individuals are still subjected to a label that is connoted with betrayal. Sharen Ghatan, a criminal defense lawyer, has experienced the disdain with which some individuals speak about these cooperators. She is urging individuals to consider the circumstances that cooperators find themselves in, and their desire to do what is best for themselves and their families.

Lawrence Bader, author of the previously cited article, believes that the negative view of cooperators lies in moral issues. He claims that some people contend that a lighter sentence in exchange for betrayal of a friend or ally is simply wrong. Additionally, Bader asserts that the actual crime committed plays a role in the degree to which a cooperator is judged by the public. Furthermore, Bader notes that individuals may consider the personal circumstances of an individual when they cooperate with law enforcement.

"My clients have often used the word 'rat' when referring to 'cooperators,' or 'snitches,'" states Sharen Ghatan. "The mere visual of a 'rat' brings to mind a dirty, sneaky, little rodent that does anything to survive. Many do not want to be categorized as such, but must do so in order to save themselves from imminent harm. I have handled many drug-related cases in which clients were facing charges of 'possession with intent to sell' and have only been the 'burros,' as they are called. They are merely doing a onetime favor for a 'friend' and now they are charged with a felony and facing state prison -- for what? A mere $100."

Through her career, Sharen Ghatan has worked with several individuals who have faced these circumstances.

"'Is that what your life is worth,' I ask them. 'No, but I really needed it for my family. Times are tough. There has been no work. I thought doing a quick favor for $100 was easy money.' Easy money? There is no such thing. So, when you wonder who these people are, these 'rats,' they are the little guys who turn over the 'big fish' because, after all, that is who the police and district attorney's office are really looking for. Do not judge them. Instead, understand that sometimes they have to cooperate to save themselves and their families' futures."


Sharen Ghatan is a native of Marin County, CA (Northern California). She graduated with a Bachelor's Degree from prestigious UC Berkeley. Subsequently, she attended and ultimately graduated from Whittier Law School in 1999.

She has since worked at New Line Cinema and Motion Picture Association of America. Ms. Ghatan found her passion for the criminal field and has had her own criminal defense firm since 2001.

Ms. Ghatan is a member of the California State Bar, and is licensed to practice before all courts in the state of California. Additionally, in October 2007, Ms. Ghatan became one of the elite attorneys to be licensed to practice before the Supreme Court of the United States. She is quite proud of this honor and hopes to revisit Washington DC with a ground-breaking criminal matter soon.


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