The discovery process starts soon after criminal charges are instituted. Once your plea is filed following your arraignment, you can file a Notice of Discovery along with a Demand for Jury Trial. Your discovery notice triggers the prosecutor’s duty to give you all evidence they’ve collected against you. Discovery under these conditions is reciprocal, so you will also need to give the prosecutor all available evidence on your end as well. The discovery process can be crucial to developing a strong defense strategy when criminal charges are filed against you. A skilled Tampa criminal defense attorney at Hanlon Law can use what is learned in the discovery process intelligently and strategically to fight for the rights of the accused.Discovery
Within thirty days of charges being filed, the discovery process can be kicked off with the defendant’s Notice of Discovery. The state has to serve a written discovery exhibit disclosing evidence within 14 days of the Notice. The disclosures that need to be made are broad. A prosecutor needs to disclose each witness known to have relevant information about the charges or defenses to the charges against you. For example, if the police know that a neighbor spotted you breaking into a home to steal a television, and this neighbor’s call to the police was how you were apprehended, the neighbor should be disclosed as an eyewitness. The government is supposed to disclose those witnesses who saw what happened, witnesses who witnessed the defendant or a codefendant making statements, alibis, investigators, and more.
Physical objects and documents that will serve as evidence must also be disclosed. If you have gone before a grand jury, your grand jury testimony should be identified and made available. In cases involving drug trafficking and other felonies, a confidential informant may have been used. Any information from that informant should be turned over, as should expert reports and electronic surveillance. The confidential informant may have a history of cooperating with prosecutors in order to get benefits related to criminal charges against them; the prosecutor should disclose this history. The prosecutor doesn’t need to disclose the confidential informant unless he or she is going to be produced at a trial or hearing or where a failure to disclose the informant’s identity would infringe upon your constitutional rights.
Sometimes the prosecutor has information in its possession that tends to show you are not guilty. This information has to be disclosed by the government, even if it hurts their case.Defense Disclosures
There are many disclosures you can be required to make as well, and there are disclosures that could help the prosecution. Within 15 days of receiving the prosecutor’s Discovery Exhibit, you must give the prosecutor a written list of the names and addresses of the witnesses you believe you will call at trial or in any hearings. If the prosecutor subpoenas one of these witnesses, other than in a trial subpoena, the rules that apply to taking depositions will apply. Within 15 days of receiving the prosecutor’s Discovery Exhibit, you will also need to disclose and let the prosecutor look at, copy, test, and photograph certain information in your possession, such as statements of certain witnesses other than you, expert reports, and statements made in connection with the criminal charges, including scientific tests or physical or mental exam results, and any tangible objects or papers you intend to use at trial or at a hearing.
Moreover, you may be asked by the court to be fingerprinted, to speak out loud so that you can be identified by a witness, or to appear in a lineup. Material can be taken from under your nails and you may be asked to wear certain clothes, all for the purpose of building the prosecutor’s case.
Attorney work product does not need to be disclosed by either side. Disclosures need not be made of legal research or records, memoranda, reports, or correspondence that include the opinions or conclusions of the prosecutor or defense attorney.Retain a Seasoned Criminal Defense Lawyer in Tampa
Discovery can have significant consequences for a criminal defense trial in Tampa and elsewhere. If you’ve been arrested or charged with a crime, it is advisable to consult and hire a skillful criminal defense attorney. Our founder and principal Will Hanlon has represented those accused of crimes since 1994. Please contact Hanlon Law at 813-228-7095 or via our online form to learn more.