If you have been charged with a crime, especially a more serious crime, then the process of the criminal case has just gotten started. Once charges are filed there are many times a number of delays or continuances of court dates, mostly because the attorneys are engaged in a process called discovery. This blog takes a look at what discovery is and how it works in a criminal case.
In most jurisdictions in Indiana the prosecutor has mandatory discovery requirements. This essentially means if there is evidence the State has in its possession or in the possession of law enforcement then they are obligated to turn that over to the defendant. This will include such things as the charging information, probable cause report, police reports, forensic reports, witness statements, 911 calls, and any associated videos (many times car dash cameras and police worn body cameras). Once the prosecutor has provided all of these documents the defense attorney will begin his/her investigation into the case. This is a crucial part of the case for the defense in that they are looking for shortcomings in the evidence, exculpatory evidence and other evidentiary matters that will assist in the defense of the case.
There are a number of tools that the Defense can use during the discovery process as well that can be helpful in making sure all evidence has been acquired and tested. For example, defense attorneys can do a request for production either to the state or to a third-party. This can be used to get videos from businesses in the area, to acquire medical records or other important documents such as cell phone records, business receipts, or any other type of media that may have evidence that could provide relevant information.
Another example of discovery the defense can used is called depositions. Depositions allow the defense attorney to subpoena witnesses so they can be placed under oath and asked questions about what they know about the case. These depositions are taken with the prosecutor, who may also ask questions, and a court reporter who swears in the witness and makes an official transcript of the deposition. These can be crucial in checking for the truthfulness and consistency of the witnesses between their original statement to police and what they say when questioned by an attorney under oath. Many times depositions are substantially more thorough than an original police interview and will lend themselves to way more detail that can reveal evidence that may have otherwise been unknown to the defense. Sometimes, evidence revealed in a deposition can end up revealing evidence that is so damaging to the state’s case sometimes they have to dismiss some or even all of the charges.
As can be seen the delays caused by doing proper discovery in a criminal case are an imperative part of the process. This step in the criminal case is one that should not be taken lightly and needs to be done thoroughly and accurately leaving no stone unturned. If you or a loved one has been charged with a crime call the experienced attorneys at Banks & Brower 24/7 to help you at 317-870-0019.