Cimasi Law Office

New York's new discovery laws help make criminal defense easier

Being accused of breaking the law can be a frightening experience for any Amherst resident. The outcome of the case will have significant effects on his or her future. Having the opportunity to prepare the best criminal defense possible often includes knowing what evidence prosecutors have to present to the court. A new law that went into effect this year could help with that endeavor.

In preparing a defense, an Amherst resident needs all of the information prosecutors have. Up until recently, the government could legally withhold certain information. Now, a new law requires all information to be turned over to a person facing criminal charges long before a trial is set to begin, which gives him or her ample time to review the information and formulate a defense.

An individual no longer has to go to prosecutors to request the so-called evidence. Prosecutors are compelled to turn everything over for inspection, copying, photographing, discovering and testing by the defense. This includes all materials relating to the case.

Perhaps more importantly in some ways, the new law also puts a time limit on prosecutors. They must turn over all evidence within a certain time. In addition, if law enforcement has the materials, the law considers it to also be in the possession of prosecutors.

This new law will help those facing criminal charges better understand what the government claims to have as evidence well before the trial date. This allows individuals and their criminal defense teams adequate time to scrutinize the information and prepare a defense to the charges. Even with this change in the law, having a competent and aggressive advocate in such matters remains an integral part of any defense. This new requirement only serves to help make the process easier.

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