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Why access to the state’s evidence is so important for defendants

On Behalf of | Mar 5, 2024 | Criminal Defense

Getting arrested for an alleged criminal offense is quite stressful. People worry about losing their freedom. They worry about how many people may hear about their arrest. In fact, they may worry about taking a case to trial because it could attract attention.

Criminal defendants often worry that the allegations against them could cause real damage to their reputations. They may decide to plead guilty to avoid a trial. They may also assume they have no chance of proving their innocence. After all, they may have heard that the state has strong evidence against them.

Police officers sometimes lie to people about the evidence that the state has. They do this to trick people into confessing. It is actually legal for police officers to lie to people during investigations. Thankfully, the state generally needs to disclose information about evidence to criminal defendants if they plead not guilty.

The law ensures the right to review the evidence before trial

Those facing charges in Missouri have the right of discovery. Their lawyer can request access to the state’s evidence. Prosecutors typically have to provide that evidence no later than 10 days before someone’s trial. The right to access evidence is one of the most important protections for criminal defendants. They can determine if the state has a strong enough case to convict them.

Why discovery rights matter

The right of discovery ensures that someone goes into a criminal trial with as much information as possible. They should have an idea of what witnesses the state may question and what forensic evidence the state has.

That information can provide the basis for a workable defense strategy. Defense attorneys can raise questions about the credibility of a witness. They can hire a laboratory to retest evidence. They can even work with expert witnesses. Professionals familiar with information technology or certain types of forensic science can potentially change the course of a trial. They can provide an alternate analysis of the evidence that the state intends to present.

A good defense strategy does not need to fully exonerate a defendant. A defense attorney only needs to establish a reasonable doubt about their involvement in criminal activity. Reviewing the state’s evidence can help people plan the most effective defense strategy based on the state’s case.