When a criminal defense attorney looks at a case, they always want to know what the prosecution has in the way of evidence, witnesses, police reports, and testimony. Fortunately, the law has a process for making this information available. The discovery process is a requirement if any case has a chance of going to trial, and it may be your best friend if you have to present a criminal defense. Here's why that is.
TV shows and movies like to depict last-minute developments that completely change criminal cases. However, the appearance of last-minute evidence, for example, would functionally be an ambush against the defense. Consequently, America's legal system almost completely prohibits it.
Your Right to See the Evidence
Every defendant has a right to see whatever evidence the state might have. If the police say they found a gun, the judge will order them to produce the weapon. Likewise, the court will order the police and prosecutors to prove they handled the chain of custody with care since the time of the alleged crime.
If there is a risk that someone could have mishandled the weapon since the cops took it into custody, your criminal defense attorney can ask the court for sanctions. The best scenario would be the judge throwing out the entire case because the prosecution lost a key piece of evidence. Even if the case continues, the judge may exclude certain evidence.
The state also has to produce a list of any witnesses who might appear during the trial. Your attorney will also have time to meet and interview the witnesses to see if their stories match the prosecution's version of events. A criminal defense attorney will also research who the witnesses are. If a particular witness has a shady background, for example, your lawyer may introduce that fact to the court or even at an eventual trial to a jury.
Challenging the Prosecution Early
Generally, a criminal defense turns out the best if it lands punches at the start. Foremost, if you can torpedo the case during the early hearings, you'll get your life back sooner. Especially if you're in jail, that would be a big deal. Also, a skillful criminal defense may encourage the prosecution to offer a plea bargain.
Even if you're convinced the prosecution has enough to convict you, it's not always wise to give in. At the minimum, you should make the prosecution and the police do their job. You may get lucky and discover they messed the evidence up or don't want to disclose a particular fact if they're investigating someone else.
Keep these tips in mind as you look for a criminal defense attorney, such as Elizabeth Franklin-Best, P.C., near you.