The Discovery Phase in Arizona Criminal Cases
During criminal case proceedings, the defendant and the prosecution must exchange any evidence that they have to support their case. This exchange of evidence is called discovery. Both sides have to give a list of any evidence, including witnesses, information regarding their expert witnesses, a list of tangible objects that may be entered in as evidence during the trial, and any video, audio, or written statements. The release of discovery is often more helpful to the defense’s case than it is to the prosecution because they will be able to see what evidence there is to uphold the charges. No evidence can be entered into the trial if the parties did not previously disclose it.
Types of Information Disclosed During Discovery
The initial disclosure of discovery will include the relevant police reports, witness list, any prior convictions, details of the search warrant, expert witnesses, and anything else that may help in the case. The initial disclosure process is merely a means of getting the discovery process started. The prosection is not going to want to willingly hand over their evidence against you and often provide only the minimum that they are required.
Arizona criminal defense lawyers know precisely what discovery requests need to be made on behalf of the defense. It is important to remember that it is the job of the prosecution to prove, beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant is guilty of the crime in which they are accused. They do have the ability to have a protective order issued to prevent privileged or confidential information protected from disclosure if the court deems it controversial in the subject of the civil action. The witnesses, subpoenas, depositions, and discovery section is laid out in A.R.S. § 12-3017.
Additional Requests to the Prosection
In the state of Arizona, the defense may submit requests for additional information to the prosecuting attorney for the State. The rules dictate that they have 30 days from the date of the request to supply the information. If the prosecution fails to comply, Arizona defense lawyers can then file a motion in the courts asking that this information be turned over.
The defense can ask for sanctions due to the prosecution’s lack of compliance. These sanctions are often presented to the court as dismissal, continuance, preclusion of the materials, or an unmentioned remedy that the court finds to be appropriate in the situation. The court is only allowed to chose the least arduous of the sanctions requested.
Issuance of Subpoenas
If there is information available to help your defense, a lawyer will likely issue a subpoena for that evidence. A subpoena is a document to compel a witness to testify or produce evidence in a court case. Since the prosecutor can only turn over information that is in their possession, it may be required that the defense issue their own subpoenas while building a case.
Judges will rarely deny your request for a subpoena, but the request that is made to the court must be reasonable, and the information being acquired should be essential to your case. Subpoenas are most helpful when trying to get an uncooperative witness to produce evidence that you have requested.
Criminal Defense and Discovery
An Arizona defense lawyer is experienced with handling the process of discovery and the issuance of subpoenas. Although it is not entirely impossible to handle on your own, you should entrust your case to those capable of making the process as quick and painless as possible. When you are charged with criminal charges in the state of Arizona, make sure you call a criminal defense lawyer to help you win your case.
Find out how courts work in Arizona.