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Using Discovery to Obtain Evidence in a Criminal Case

Using Discovery to Obtain Evidence in a Criminal CaseOne of the most important steps when gathering evidence for a criminal defense trial is the discovery process, which is obtaining evidence that the prosecution possesses. A law enforcement agency conducted an investigation into your case, which the prosecution will use as evidence in trying to prove the criminal charge against you. Some of the prosecution’s evidence may be impossible for you to obtain on your own, such as a police officer’s bodycam video footage from a DUI stop. You have the right to see that evidence before your trial in order to potentially use it as part of your defense strategy.

Sharing Requirements

The defense is responsible for requesting the evidence from the prosecution, and the prosecution must comply in a timely fashion. The prosecution does not have to provide evidence to the defense without a request unless it is material exculpatory evidence, meaning evidence that clearly shows that the defendant is innocent. The court may deny a discovery request if it believes that disclosing the evidence may put someone at substantial risk of harm or the usefulness of sharing the evidence does not justify the burden it would cause someone. A discovery violation happens when the prosecution willfully or unreasonably impedes the defense’s access to evidence by not responding to discovery requests or tampering with evidence. If the court determines that a discovery violation has occurred, it can order that the related evidence be excluded from the trial or dismiss the case.

Types of Evidence

According to Illinois’ court rules, the evidence that prosecutors must share if requested during discovery includes:

  • Tangible objects
  • Audio or video recordings from the arrest
  • The names and addresses of witnesses that the prosecution will use
  • The criminal records of the prosecution’s witnesses
  • Prerecorded or written statements from witnesses and experts
  • Official statements made by the defendant during the investigation
  • Minutes from the grand jury testimony

The prosecution is not required to turn over evidence of a sensitive nature, such as the names of informants, information of national security, or records that contain the opinions or theories of the state or its investigators.

Contact a Wheaton, Illinois, Criminal Defense Lawyer

The evidence you obtain during discovery may be helpful or harmful to your case, depending on how you interpret it. A DuPage County criminal defense lawyer at Stephen A. Brundage, Attorney at Law, knows what types of evidence are most important to obtain during discovery and what to look for in the evidence. To schedule a consultation, call 630-260-9647.

Source:

http://www.illinoiscourts.gov/SupremeCourt/Rules/Art_IV/ArtIV.htm

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