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What is discovery in a criminal case?

The "discovery process" in a criminal case is the process whereby the defendant demands, and the state turns over, all evidence that the state has in its possession that it plans on using against the defendant. The state is not allowed to hide evidence and later surprise the defendant with it at trial. Discovery allows the defendant to learn, or discover, what the case is all about. In addition, the state also has an obligation to turn over all exculpatory evidence—that is, any evidence tending to show that the defendant is not guilty of the crime charged.

How does criminal defense discovery work in Sarasota County?

The purpose of discovery in a criminal case is to prevent surprise and to facilitate a truthful fact-finding process. In Sarasota County, after the defendant demands discovery, the state will (usually in about 15-30 days) turn over a document containing all witnesses (generally the people the police officer brings to the state's attention that observed or have information regarding the crime at issue). This document also contains a checklist of all the evidence that the state has in its possession. For instance, if the state has in its possession any pictures, video, fingerprints, witness statements, etc. , it should be listed in this document.

After reviewing this initial discovery, the defendant will know more about the case that the state has against him or her. The defendant's attorney may then schedule depositions where category A witnesses (usually witnesses who observed the alleged crime) can be questioned under oath. Depositions are also a part of discovery. After depositions are concluded, the defendant will know exactly what the witnesses observed and are likely to testify to in the event that the case goes to trial or to a motion to suppress or dismiss hearing.

How Soler and Slack, P.A. can help you

After we receive discovery, the lawyers of Soler & Slack, P.A. will schedule a time to meet with you and review this discovery. We will then discuss with you the best course of action to take. Sometimes this will be to file motions to dismiss or suppress the evidence or the entire case. Other times the best course to take will be to negotiate a better plea offer. And of course, the defendant will always have the option to continue the case to trial.

Please call our attorneys at (941) 444-5128 with all questions and to schedule a free case evaluation.

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