Attorney Angela Singleton - Oklahoma City Criminal Defense

What Does Discovery Actually Mean In A Criminal Case?

What is Discovery in Oklahoma?

Discovery is the process of obtaining the evidence that the state plans to use against a defendant. It’s just a fancy word for evidence. Whenever an attorney says, “I’m going to request discovery,” that means they’re going to get the evidence that the state claims they have.

How Important Is Discovery In A DWI Or Criminal Case?

The discovery is extremely important in a DUI or criminal case because it’s the evidence that the state claims they have against you. It’s the basis for the charges that are filed against you. An attorney needs to go through the evidence so that they can know where to attack the state’s case and where defenses need to be developed.

What Type Of Evidence Is Generally Available In Discovery In a Criminal Case?

In a criminal case, all evidence is available. At the beginning of a case, you can typically only get police reports, but as the case moves along, more evidence is available to you. The rule is that all evidence must be given to you 10 days before trial. That doesn’t give you a lot of time, which is why most prosecutors give you evidence as the case moves along. Since the prosecutor is the gatekeeper of the evidence until the 10-day rule goes into effect, it’s essential to have an attorney who has a good working relationship with the DA’s offices, because they don’t have to give you anything ahead of time. If you have an attorney who can work well with the prosecutor, then you can get the evidence early on in your case, which means that you can begin attacking the case and developing your defenses.

Are The Rules Of Discovery The Same In Misdemeanor And Felony Cases?

Yes, the rules of discovery are the same in misdemeanor and felony cases. You have a right to all evidence that the state has against you. The 10-day rule applies there too, but again, if you have a good working relationship with the prosecutor, then you can usually get that evidence ahead of time.

When Does Discovery Typically Become Available To The Defense?

An attorney can request discovery as soon as they do what’s called an entry of appearance, which is a notice to the court saying that they are going to be the attorney on the case. Once an attorney has done that, they can typically notify the prosecutor, and she will begin releasing evidence to them.

Does The Defendant Have To Enter A Plea Prior To Discovery In A Criminal Case?

Sometimes evidence is available before the initial plea or arraignment. In Oklahoma, a police agency gathers evidence against you and takes it to the district attorney. The district attorney then reviews that evidence and files charges. However, there can be a long span of time between the gathering of the evidence and the filing of charges. If you have an attorney early on, then they can advocate for you and review evidence that may be available before charges are even filed.

It’s crucial that you hire an attorney as soon as possible. Even if you think that you’re just going to enter a plea of guilty and not try to develop a defense, it’s still important to have an attorney look over the evidence. Because there can be issues with the way a case is brought, and these are things that an attorney can recognize but that you may not realize. This is vital because certain issues could have a dramatic effect in your case and could even lead to it being dismissed.

Are Discovery Rules Intended To Help The Defendant In A Trial?

Discovery rules can help a defendant in certain situations. There are specific rules in place that help defendants, one of which is that the state can’t spring evidence on them at the last second. They have to hand over the evidence, and then the court has to give the defense time to review or investigate it before forcing a defendant to go to trial. The other important protection in discovery and evidence rules is that prosecutors can’t hide exculpatory evidence, which is evidence that tends to show that a defendant is innocent. That is a big issue. It could mean a new trial for you if the prosecutor does that, and it could also mean some pretty severe sanctions for that prosecutor. But to ensure that your rights are protected you need to hire an experienced attorney who knows the laws and can make sure you don’t get lost in the criminal justice system.

For more information on 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 (855) 748-8771 today.