Attorney Angela Singleton - Oklahoma City Criminal Defense

What Is The Process Of Discovery In A Criminal Case?


Discovery Process in Oklahoma

The general rule is that you are entitled to all discovery 10 days before trial. In Oklahoma, you can usually get police reports from the beginning of the case, because prosecutors will turn those over immediately. Videos, recordings and other types of physical evidence probably won’t be available until closer to the date of trial. In more serious cases, such as murder, manslaughter and sex crimes, you can usually get other forms of evidence early on because there is more of it and it can be complicated.

Obtaining evidence in your criminal case relies on having good relationships with the DA’s office. A good attorney has established themselves within the DA’s office and has a good working relationship with them. As a result, they tend to get evidence early on. I want to be clear that a good working relationship doesn’t mean that a good attorney is just going to bend over backward for a DA’s office; a good working relationship means that there is mutual respect on both sides. The DA’s office knows that you’re going to advocate for your client and do everything that you can, but you’re going to do it in a way that’s respectful. A defense attorney does not want to turn the DA’s office against them because then they may decide to follow the 10-day rule and keep evidence until the last moment.

How Do You Generally Proceed After Reviewing Discovery In A Criminal Case?

After I review discovery, I like to meet with the client and start discussing the options. I go over the strengths and weaknesses of the case and develop a game plan for what we are going to do next. I believe that it’s important that the client review the police report so we can discuss any issues that they’ve found. Clients will often find inconsistencies, errors or statements that are just untrue. Discussing these issues gives us a better idea of how we’re going to address them with the DA and with the court.

What Happens If You Discover Evidence Favorable To The Defense In Discovery?

If you discover evidence that’s favorable to the defense, it could be used to negotiate with the DA for a better plea bargain or dismissal. I’m going to take that information to the prosecutor and deal with it that way. If it has something to do with the law or a legal issue, then we’re going to file a motion and take that to the court. We will let the court decide how to move forward, which may mean suppressing certain evidence or dismissing the case.

Can Prosecutors Ever Spring New Evidence On Defendants Like They Do On TV?

No, prosecutors cannot spring new evidence on defendants. The defendant has a right to be prepared for court, so the court must allow a defendant time to review all of the evidence. If the court fails to do that, then the defendant can appeal that to a higher court. No one is subject to trial by ambush in the state of Oklahoma.

What Happens If Prosecution Fails To Disclose Some Evidence In Discovery?

Brady violations occur when the prosecution fails to reveal exculpatory evidence, which is evidence that tends to show that the defendant is innocent. This can result in a new trial and severe sanctions for a prosecutor.

How Difficult Would It Be For Someone To Get Discovery Without An Attorney?

It is quite difficult to get discovery on your own without an attorney. Typically, a district attorney’s office will not release any evidence to a non-attorney unless it is ordered by the court. Sometimes a person can get police reports from the agency itself, but typically those are redacted, meaning that names and certain information is blacked out. That makes it difficult to prepare any case because you don’t know who the witnesses are and you just don’t know all of the evidence that the state claims to have against you.

If you have an attorney who doesn’t know how to get discovery, that’s also going to create problems. It’s going to delay the time it takes to get that evidence into your hand so that you can start formulating defenses for your case. If you have an attorney who has a bad relationship with the DA’s office, you may not see evidence until you’re well into your case and getting ready for a trial. It’s really hard to get ready for trial 10 days in advance, especially if it’s a serious case. It’s extremely important to hire an attorney as soon as you can because the evidence is going to be the basis for everything that you do moving forward.

Additional Information On Discovery In Criminal Cases In Oklahoma

If you are in custody and you have somehow obtained the police report, it is extremely important that you not show that police report to anyone. This is because other people who are in custody could look at the report and learn information about your case. If someone who is in custody learns information about your case, then they could say that you told them something which you did not, thereby becoming a witness against you. They are looking out for themselves and trying to get a better deal, and they are willing to do whatever it takes to do that. So, while discovery and evidence are very important for you and your attorney to go over, it should be kept close by. You don’t want any of that information to get out and be used against you by someone who has ulterior motives.

For more information on Process Of Discovery In A Criminal Case, a free initial consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you are seeking by calling (405) 510-0345 today.

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