The discovery process can make a huge difference in your criminal case. Discovery is a series of procedures through which each side can find out what the other side knows, and see the evidence through which it is building its case. Using the discovery process in a skillful way is key to putting forth a strong defense against criminal charges. An experienced St. Petersburg criminal defense attorney at Hanlon Law can evaluate the facts of your case and answer any questions you may have about your legal rights following an arrest.Discovery
Once criminal charges are filed against you and you have provided a response through your arraignment, you can choose to participate in discovery. Discovery is a process by which you can take depositions and file records requests related to your pending prosecution.
Within 14 days of being served with your Notice of Discovery, a Florida prosecutor is required to serve a written discovery exhibit that discloses and allows you and your attorney to look at and copy and photograph information within the government’s possession or control regarding your case. However, any material portraying a child’s involvement in a sexual situation (such as when sex crimes are charged) can’t be duplicated as long as the prosecutor makes that material reasonably available to you and your lawyer.
The government’s disclosure to you should include all people known to the prosecutor to have information that might be relevant to the crime charged or any defense to it. These designations should be made with regard to eyewitnesses, alibis, witnesses to when statements were taken by the defendant or a codefendant, investigating officers, witnesses known to have material information that tends to negate the defendant’s guilt about the offenses charged, child hearsay witnesses, expert witnesses that haven’t given written reports or CVs, and informant witnesses. It should also specify witnesses who conducted ministerial functions or who the government doesn’t intend to call out and whose knowledge is already fully set out either in a police report or a statement.
Relatedly, the statements of anybody who isn’t going to be called by the government should also be provided as part of the discovery process. Such statements can include both written and recorded statements, as well as investigative reports. These statements should be provided when they are made by the defendant or codefendant as well.
Additionally, when the defendant’s papers or objects have been taken by law enforcement, they should be provided in discovery, as should the defendant’s testimony before the grand jury. Similarly, information provided by any confidential informants, electronic surveillance, documents seized in a search, expert reports, and other tangible papers or objects intended to be used by the prosecutor should be turned over.Informants
Through discovery, the prosecution should provide the criminal history of any informant upon whose statements it intends to rely, as well as the time and place in which the defendant’s statements to the informant were allegedly made. Defendants are entitled to know whether an informant has gotten or expects to get anything in exchange for testimony, and any prior history the informant has of cooperating with police and prosecutors for benefit.Defenses
The prosecutor must also disclose to you any material information in its possession that tends to negate guilt, regardless of whether a reciprocal discovery obligation has been incurred.What You Need to Disclose to the Prosecutor
Once charges are filed and to the extent permitted by the Constitution, the court can ask you to appear in a lineup, give fingerprints, talk for purposes of identification by witnesses to the crimes being charged, pose for photographs, try on clothing, have specimens of what’s under your fingernails be taken, give handwriting specimens, provide samples of bodily materials that don’t require unreasonable invasions of your body (such as hair), and go through a medical inspection so long as it’s reasonable.
If you choose to participate in discovery, such as by taking a deposition, you need to make certain disclosures as well. These include identification of witnesses you expect to call at trial, documents you plan to use, and test results.Consult an Experienced Criminal Defense Attorney in St. Petersburg
If you are concerned about the discovery process in a St. Petersburg criminal case, it’s important to consult a seasoned criminal defense lawyer. At Hanlon Law, our founder Will Hanlon has provided strong strategic defenses to the accused since 1994. Please contact Hanlon Law at 727.289.0222 or via our online form.