How Will Your Boston Criminal Defense Attorney Obtain the Evidence the Prosecution Hopes to Use Against You?
Any Boston criminal defense lawyer worth his salt understands that he cannot effectively plan a defense strategy if he remains unaware of the evidence the prosecutor intends to introduce at trial against you.
“Discovery” is the legal term used to describe the evidence-gathering process in a civil lawsuit or criminal prosecution. Criminal defense lawyers may obtain copies of evidence, such as police reports, crime lab reports, photographs, and witness statements, or access to evidence, such as bloody clothing, in three ways:
Voluntary Disclosure By the Prosecution
Often, the prosecutor will voluntarily disclose and/or provide copies of evidence to your criminal defense attorney, including police reports, grand jury transcripts, witness written statements, and crime lab reports without a formal request or being ordered to by the court. Typically, a prosecutor will turn over document type evidence to the lawyer early in the case, sometimes at arraignment. In many cases, particularly where both lawyers are seasoned veterans of the system, the criminal defense attorney and the prosecutor informally discuss an exchange of evidence.
Formal Requests for Discovery by the Defense
The court will normally require the defense attorney to serve the prosecutor with a standard “check the box” form, listing the evidence he seeks from the prosecutor. Generally, these standard pre-trial forms are not very detailed, and your criminal defense attorney will supplement the form with additional requests particular to the facts of your case.
Motions for Discovery by the Defense
If the prosecutor refuses to provide informally requested evidence, the Boston criminal defense attorney will file formal motions (requests) for discovery with the court. Often, defense lawyers must persuade judges to order the prosecutor to provide the evidence. Judges often have wide discretion in ruling on such motions. Some arguments that may sway the judge to rule in your favor include:
- You pose no danger to any of the witnesses who may be identified in the discovery materials.
- Your criminal defense attorney needs the discovery as soon as possible in order to complete his investigation of the facts of the case.
- Your criminal defense attorney needs the discovery, sooner rather than later, in order to evaluate its admissibility and, if possible, seek to have it excluded.
- Without additional discovery (e.g., witness statements or co-conspirators’ statements), your criminal defense attorney cannot prepare for trial or advise you.
- Contact a Boston criminal defense attorney
Knowledge is power when it comes to formulating an effective defense strategy. To ensure that you obtain all the prosecution’s evidence and avoid avoidable suprises at trial, contact an experienced Boston criminal defense attorney as early in your case as possible. Call us, at 617-492-0055, to schedule a free consultation with Kevin J. Mahoney.