Criminal Evidence Discovery in Utah
In the past, lawyers practiced “trial by ambush.” Each side had to guess what the other side would present, and hope they could deal with surprises. Civil discovery has changed this practice to allow opposing sides to know what evidence will be brought against them. Discovery in Criminal Law has not moved so far. Trial by ambush is not the rule anymore, but criminal discovery in Utah does not emulate the open file approach common in civil litigation. Criminal defense attorneys fight for the evidence they need to protect your rights.
The U.S. Supreme Court has held that the due process clause in the US Constitution requires the state to disclose to a defendant evidence that is material and favorable to the accused such as a blood alcohol test in a DUI case. The court has defined the term material restrictively to require disclosure only if there is a reasonable probability that the verdict would have been different had a criminal defense lawyer received the evidence.
Not All Evidence in Utah Criminal Trials Must Be Disclosed
The result is that the nature of the prosecutor’s constitutional duty to disclose has shifted from an evidentiary test of materiality that can be applied rather easily to any item of evidence, to a result-affecting test that obligates a prosecutor or an appellate court to make a counterfactual, retrospective prediction.
The Supreme Court does not require the prosecution to disclose all exculpatory and impeachment materials; it need only disclose material that, if suppressed would deprive the defendant of a fair trial such as a seizure of drugs revealed the items were not drugs at all. The rule only applies to material information so nonmaterial information may remain undisclosed.The prosecutor’s duty is a continuing one; whenever he or she uncovers material evidence about the defendant’s case, it must be disclosed. The disclosure is automatically required and does not depend on whether the defendant had made a generalized or specific request for exculpatory material.
Provo Criminal Defense Lawyers Fight For Evidence
Criminal proceedings are stressful and complex. Call an attorney from Criminal Defense Provo so you can rest easy about your criminal charges. A lawyer from Criminal Defense Provo knows your rights and will protect them from a prosecutor’s abuse. Call a lawyer toady at 801.800.8246.