A St. Johns County Defense Attorney Discusses the Role of Documents in Criminal Discovery

There are some documents to which you have the right to access during the discovery process in a criminal case. Your St. Johns County defense attorney can provide you with specific information concerning your entitlements in such a situation.

Documentation Is Vital

As any St. Johns County defense attorney can confirm, obtaining the appropriate documents lies at the heart of your defense. They can provide crucial information that can form the basis for the case presented by the prosecutor, uncover weaknesses in the opposition’s evidence and reveal witnesses for both sides.

Types of Documents

Your St. Johns County defense attorney can outline the rules of discovery that grant access to the following categories of documents. These are documents that:

  • Pertain directly to the defense’s case;
  • Were taken from the defendant; and
  • That is to form part of the government’s case at the trial.

Prosecution’s Responsibilities

Your St. Johns County defense lawyer can tell you that the obligations required of the prosecution extend beyond the documentation that it currently possesses. The prosecutor must gather from private persons and/or government agencies any or all relevant documentation to which it has the right of possession under the law.

Your St. Johns County Defense Lawyer’s Responsibilities

It is up to your St. Johns County defense attorney to determine the materiality of the aforesaid documentation. Under the rules of discovery, evidence that may incriminate you is also covered in the definition of “materiality.”

Sifting Through the Paperwork

Although your St. Johns County defense attorney may be able to obtain from the prosecution all of the documents in their possession, it then becomes necessary to separate what is applicable from what is not. In a case in which there are volumes of documents, this can become a labor-intensive process.

Your St. Johns County Defense Lawyer Can:

  • Ask the prosecution to indicate the documents that they intend to apply. This may be required by the court, which can also order that the prosecution include a directory of the contents or categories into which the documents are sorted so that they are organized in a useful fashion.
  • Request from the prosecution any documents that have been scanned into electronic form, presenting the argument to the court that this is necessary in order to determine whether or not these images can legally be admitted as evidence at trial since they are not original.
  • Summarize the information when there are volumes of documents to deal with and present the synopsis rather than large, cumbersome stacks of papers. Your attorney may require that the prosecution make available the original documents that were used in developing the synopsis. According to the rules, the original documents must be “available for examination or copying, or both, by other parties at reasonable time and place.” In order to establish whether or not the summary is admissible, the court may wish to set a hearing with the jury absent.

Be Sure the Paperwork Is in Order

If you are involved in a criminal case, your St. Johns County defense attorney is a powerful ally. Contact the Attorneys at Canan Law by calling (904) 849-2266 today because no job is finished until the paperwork is done.


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