One of the scariest things for defendants in criminal cases is wondering what the state has for a case. If you're facing charges or are worried some might be brought against you, here's what you need to know about uncovering the case the state has.
Before Being Charged
Most people being investigated for a possible offense get some hints that the police or the prosecutor's office might be looking into something. At this stage, the cops have considerable room to keep information from you. If there's even a hint of interest in you as a suspect, it's a good idea to start seeking consultations with criminal defense lawyers. Unless the police interview you and tell you what they're looking for, be prepared to be left in the dark about most of the details until charges are filed.
Preliminary hearings are usually the first opportunity for criminal defense attorneys to finally learn details about what their clients are being accused of. During your initial arraignment, the government is required to present the allegations against you. The judge assigned to the case will then ask you if you understand the charges, possibly set bail, and arrange later preliminary hearings.
Prelims can cover a lot of topics, but the focus is usually on raising questions about evidence, testimony, and the nature of the charges. This is when the first real detailed picture emerges. Your attorney will be given a list of the items of evidence against you, and they'll also have the opportunity to examine the evidence up close in a controlled environment. The state also will have to produce a witness list, and your lawyer will have a chance to interview anyone the government plans to call to the stand.
Criminal defense lawyers have the right to request information they feel may be pertinent to their client's case. This process is known as discovery, and the state is required to turn over any evidence, documents, or witness testimony. Notably, they have to turn these materials over regardless of whether it helps the defendant's case or not.
The American justice system in its modern form is designed to ensure the case against you has largely been laid out before you go to trial. Aside from the legal logic the prosecution is applying, surprise evidence and testimony aren't allowed. Fresh evidence can be entered during a trial, but the defense must be given ample opportunity to examine it.Share
8 November 2019
Although I am far from perfect, I have focused on abiding by the local laws for the vast majority of my life. Unfortunately, about five years ago, I realized that I was being accused of a crime that I didn't commit. I thought about letting the trial run its course, but then I realized that fighting would be important to ensure my future. I teamed up with a great lawyer, and things became much easier overnight. My legal counsel told me what to do and what to avoid, and he was able to prove the facts in a court of law. This blog is all about choosing to fight charges.