Criminal Discovery

August 14, 2014

As you progress with your case, your New Jersey criminal defense lawyer will let you know about certain obligations that you have. Many of these obligations arise during the course of the discovery process. Discovery occurs when each side of the case asks for information that is helpful to aid the other side in working on its case.

Reciprocal Discovery

Once the prosecutor requests discovery from you through your New Jersey criminal defense lawyer, reciprocal discovery is triggered. Additionally, your New Jersey criminal defense attorney might have to provide notice of certain defenses that you may raise, such as an alibi. This mandate for reciprocal discovery is often executed through a pretrial order. The prosecution might have to provide more information from the case, including witness lists, statements and trial exhibits.

Determining Information to Request

One of the responsibilities of your criminal defense attorney is to determine how helpful certain information may be to your case. He or she must assess whether asking for this information exceeds the cost of disclosing information about your defense. He or she may ask some of the following questions:

• Are you aware of the prosecution’s strategies and case in general, or do you have a good idea about the likely evidence that they will produce?
• Will your witnesses be intimidated if disclosure allows the prosecution to start asking them questions now? Do your witnesses have damaging information in their past that can affect their credibility?
• Does your defense depend on the other side being surprised, or is it the only feasible defense that the case warrants or that the prosecutor would likely anticipate?

Limitations of Discovery

The prosecution can’t compel a defendant to testify, and his or her attorney can’t be forced to provide pretrial information about what the testimony might be. Additionally, you are not required to disclose potentially damaging information to the prosecution. However, by being aware of the prosecution’s evidence, your attorney may be able to anticipate  the intended prosecution strategy to better prepare his or her own strategy to combat this evidence.

If you would like more information regarding the obligation of providing certain discovery to the prosecution, contact Tim Anderson at 732-212-2812 to set up a confidential meeting.

 

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