Mandatory disclosure of Evidence
Idaho Criminal Rule 16. Discovery and Inspection
The above term in a criminal case is often referred to as discovery. What this is, or means is if you have been charged in a criminal case is the following:
As soon a practicable after the filing of charges against the accused, the prosecuting attorney must disclose to the defendant or defendant’s counsel any material or information in the prosecuting attorney’s possession or control, or later comes into the prosecuting attorney’s possession or control, that tends to negate the guilt of the accused as to the offences charged or that would tend to reduce the punishment for the offences. The prosecuting attorney’s obligation under this paragraph extends to material and information in the possession or control of members of the prosecuting attorney’s staff and of any others who have participated in the investigation or evaluation of the case, who either regularly report, or have reported in that case, to the office of the prosecuting attorney. The prosecuting attorney must also disclose the general nature of evidence of other crimes, wrongs, or acts, it intends to introduce at trial as required by Rule 404(b) of the Idaho Rules of Evidence.
Now this sounds pretty simple, however some times that is not always the case. Often times the prosecutor will choose not to disclose all the information if it could jeopardize another ongoing case or investigation. Rarely will you see the prosecutor disclose the name of an informant in a drug case. This is when your attorney has to file a motion to show cause or compel the prosecutor to disclose this information.
Ways that I have assisted defense attorneys in past cases is running backgrounds on the prosecutor witnesses. Usually the prosecutor does not check into the past of his witnesses. If the witness has a past record of being untruthful and lying, this is something that your attorney needs to know prior to trial.
Recently I am seeing a lot of cases that the “CAD” system, or the Computer Aided Dispatch, is becoming very important. This is taking the place of the radio contact between the officer and the dispatcher. The officer logs all of his activities and events on this system. This is a coded system and a lot of the terms used are police acronyms.
It takes someone with a law enforcement back ground to understand it and how it can relate to your case. Many of the attorneys I work with didn’t know that this system existed and had not been asking for it in discovery.
As we progress in this digital world, more and more things are being recorded and transmitted digitally. This is the same in criminal cases. There is a chain of digital information when it comes to the submitting and transfer of evidence.
Are you receiving all the information concerning your case and evidence?
Just recently I had to send copies of submission forms to one of my attorney clients as he didn’t know that form existed, and it wasn’t included with the discovery. The prosecutor probably didn’t realize that he didn’t submit it because he doesn’t even know about it.
Cases involving DNA and Forensic evidence are very complex. It is important to have someone with a background and experience in the collection of this type of evidence to review the discovery and documentation involving (or lack of) this evidence.
I am working several cases that the attorney had not realized that there were several items of documentation (discovery) that had not been disclosed when he received the case file. I was also able to advise the attorneys of several items of discovery that needed to be requested.