WHAT INFORMATION OR EVIDENCE MUST BE HANDED OVER BY THE PROSECUTION IN A CRIMINAL TRIAL?
After criminal charges have been filed, both the prosecution and the defense gather information and evidence in order to make their case. Although it may seem like this information would be hoarded and kept secret by both parties, the prosecution is generally required to disclose any information or evidence that they have through a process called discovery in order to ensure fundamental fairness and due process. Additionally, the prosecution may request information from the defense, but is limited to material that does not violate the right against self-incrimination under the 5th Amendment.
The process of discovery is the time prior to the trial when the defendant obtains evidence that the prosecution has on the defendant. Generally, this process starts immediately after charges have been filed, but can continue up until trial as evidence arises.
What Type of Material is Discoverable?
Typically, through discovery, the defendant is able to access all the information that the prosecution is going to use against the defendant in the trial. Generally, this could be:
- Police reports regarding the crime;
- Witness testimony;
- Physical evidence;
- Wire taps or surveillance reports;
- Scientific tests (DNA, fingerprint, etc.); or
- Anything else relevant to the prosecution’s case;
Limitations to Discoverable Material
Although the prosecution is required to disclose the material it is going to use against the defendant through the discovery process, this does not mean that the information has to make sense. Generally, the material disclosed is considered “raw” evidence, meaning that the material presented is not explained or put in context. As such, the defense will have to wade through the material and investigate it to determine what it is or how it is going to be used.
If you or someone you know have been charged with a crime, it is important to consult with an experienced criminal defense attorney that can help zealously defend your case. Contact Us at Minick Law, P.C. for a free consultation on your case.
James Minick is founder and C.E.O. of Minick Law, P.C. James is committed to providing top notch legal services through his team of highly specialized legal professionals. James will defend your rights.