In the United States and in the State of Florida, criminal defendants are deemed innocent until proven guilty. People who are charged with crimes might not feel this way as they feel the pressure of the prosecution and the inherent unfairness of the criminal justice system. However, the constitutional guarantee that all criminal defendants have certain rights allows for those defendants to exercise certain powers to effectively prepare for their defense. One of those powers is the right to Discovery. In any criminal proceeding in Florida, the prosecution on the case is required to turn over a Discovery submission including a list of witnesses, along with any piece of evidence that the prosecution might use against a defendant at a trial.
During the discovery process, both the defense and the prosecution are required to turn over a list of witnesses to the opposing party. Both the prosecution and the defense can potentially take what are known as depositions of the witnesses of the opposing party. If you are facing criminal charges, it is imperative that you consult a St. Petersburg criminal attorney who is skilled in the art of the deposition, as an effective deposition can make or break your case.
What is a DepositionA deposition is a formal interview of a witness that occurs in the presence of the prosecution and the defense. For the deposition of an adult, a court reporter will also be present to record and transcribe the content of the deposition. Prior to a deposition, the witness to be interviewed will usually be served with a subpoena requiring their presence. At the deposition, the court reporter will have the deponent raise their right hand and swear that the testimony that is to be provided is the truth. Someone who willfully lies during deposition testimony can potentially be charged with perjury or obstruction of justice.
Depositions taken in civil cases can last hours or days and the lawyers involve typically make a multitude of legal objections. Criminal depositions tend to be more succinct and to the point. Because the prosecution in the case has a duty to find out the truth—instead of a duty to their client—they will not usually object or disturb the questioning of the defendant’s lawyer. Both the defense attorney and the prosecutor are allowed to ask questions of the deponent at a discovery deposition.
A dedicated St. Petersburg criminal lawyer with experience taking depositions can alter the course of your case just by interviewing a witness. Cases often look much worse than they are at their inception. Alleged victims of crimes and police will tailor their initial reports and statements to be as harmful to the defendant as possible. Police investigations are often haphazard and incomplete. And witness statements are often overblown or outright lies. At the deposition, a witness or victim is not going to be questioned by a friendly police officer or prosecutor trying to make a case. Instead, it should be a zealous defense attorney who will not stop to uncover the truth and achieve the best outcome for his or her client.
One purpose of a deposition is to simply collect information. Police reports are often unclear and lack detail. But as the saying goes, “the devil is in the detail.” A deposition can help your lawyer uncover the important details in your case that might have been overlooked or ignored by law enforcement. A deposition of an alleged victim can uncover their biases and reasons to lie about their allegations. A deposition of a key witness can help your lawyer be fully prepared for a motion or hearing on your case. Sometimes, a deposition can be so eventful that the prosecutor decides to drop the charges due to the questions asked by your lawyer.
Speak to Our Lawyers About Your CaseThe St. Petersburg criminal defense lawyers at Hanlon Law are skilled in the art of taking depositions. We have an attention to detail that can make all the difference in your case. Speak to us today at 727.289.0222.