The Criminal Defense Process Part 6 – Discovery from the State in a Criminal Case
In this video, we are going to be talking about discovery, or initial discovery in the criminal defense process. now, initial discovery takes place after you have been charged with a crime, after you have hired your lawyer, and after your first appearance. In this process, your lawyer will file what they call a motion for discovery and inspection with the court, and they will give a copy of that to the district attorney’s office. Once you have filed that motion for discovery and inspection, the state will begin to produce evidence. They will produce any evidence that they have against you and give that over to your lawyer. Now it is not only evidence that shows that you committed the crime, they also have to produce evidence that shows you did not commit the crime. Anything that they have under their control that tends to prove that you did not commit the crime, or helps your case, they have to give you that as well. Now, how this happens as a practical matter, is after your lawyer has filed the motion for discovery and inspection, they will get some documents; usually a police report, a complaint, an affidavit, the first things that are available to the district attorney’s office. Then, your lawyer will look through that then, almost invariably, they will elude in those reports to some other discoverable material. Then your lawyer will communicate with the district attorney’s office and try to obtain that discoverable material. If there is some sort of discovery dispute, then your lawyer may file a motion to compel, and bring it in front of the court for the court’s determination on whether you are entitled to whatever your lawyer thinks that you are entitled to as far as discovery purposes. Now once you obtain this discovery, this is part of your lawyer’s job to look through it and see not only if there are other things that are discoverable, but is there any evidence that the police illegally obtained and how can your lawyer suppress that evidence? Also, once your lawyer has filed the motion for discovery and inspection, the state is under a continuing obligation to supplement or give to your lawyer any other evidence that comes in. Initial discovery is a very important process because it helps frame your case from the outside so that your lawyer can get a good idea of what he is working with. For more information on the criminal defense process, please watch our next video on preliminary examinations.