Prosecutors, in no way, have to go above and beyond working as detectives to help a defendant in their case. If you have been convicted of a crime, never expect the prosecution to work in your favor in that way. However, prosecutors absolutely must turn over any information that they have that may be seen as favorable to the defense, even if it is not asked for. Defendants are placed in a strange sort of position, relying on the opposition to help them out to a certain extent. Defendants and their attorneys have concern that prosecutors have withheld information that may be seen as helpful to the case. If you suspect this has happened, what can you do about it?
Prosecutors may fail to voluntarily reveal favorable information in any given situation. Even though prosecutors have an ethical duty to achieve justice, this may not always be the case and something that a defendant and his or her attorney should be on guard about constantly. Defendants should always be alert to the fact that evidence that may be beneficial to their case, actually exists. Defense counsel may learn about this information by finding reference to said information in a document that the prosecution turned over, or by investigating the case and talking to witnesses or police officers that could be of help in the case.
Are You Able to Access Police and Prosecution Files?
Unfortunately, no. You are in no way permitted to rummage through law enforcement documents in search of favorable evidence, and your lawyer is not allowed to, either. However, a defense attorney is able to file pretrial motions asking a judge to force a prosecutor to give the defense access to police and prosecution files. A review can also take place, wherein files are inspected to determine whether or not the defense may be entitled to them. The defense, however, must be able to show that there’s a good chance the information is subject to discovery in the first place.
Exculpatory evidence, in every state, is an absolute must. This means that prosecutors are not permitted to present half-truths to grand juries. If there is strong, credible evidence and it is in a prosecutor’s hands, they must divulge it on a legal level. This, in many cases, will end up helping out a defendant even if in just minimal ways.
An example of this can be seen in a case known as Brady v. Maryland, where in, 1963, justices unanimously declared that prosecutors have an obligation, under the constitution, to share all exculpatory evidence that officials may have with criminal defendants. Exculpatory evidence is all evidence that happens to be favorable to the defendant in a criminal trial. It will typically exonerate the defendant of guilt. The Brady rule and many other rules put in place to protect the rights of defendants as much as possible will make trials more fair, even if it means that the guilty come out with less charges in the end.
If you have faced criminal charges, you should always have an attorney on your side. You should always consult with your attorney to make sure that the prosecution has turned over all discovery on your part, and if you have reason to believe that they have not, this should be mentioned. Call The Blair Law Firm today to speak to an experienced attorney about your case.