If you have been accused of an Oklahoma crime, from the moment you are arrested, law enforcement and the prosecution have a number of inherent advantages over you as an individual defendant. The government has the financial and manpower resources to afford investigators and attorneys to seek and collect evidence against you from a variety of sources, including documents, witnesses and even the testimony of co-defendants if you have been accused along with others. Defending yourself effectively against this array can be daunting.
You are not, however, without resources of your own in this contest. One of the most important tools that is available to you, and which your defense attorney must be intimately familiar with in operation, is known as discovery.
Briefly stated, discovery is a mechanism through which you can compel the state to reveal information in its possession or within its knowledge that may, if it is material to your defense, assist your case.
If you have been involved in a civil lawsuit before, then you may already be familiar with the discovery concept. But civil discovery and criminal discovery are different in operation, and work by different rules. Civil discovery is a mechanism for both sides to gain information in the possession of the other. Criminal discovery, on the other hand, is intended mainly to help the defendant to secure the right to a fair trial by being able to prepare a proper defense by keeping the prosecution from being able to engage in surprise tactics, particularly the introduction of evidence or witness testimony that the accused is not prepared for.
Criminal discovery works to make available to the defense information including:
- reports of law enforcement personnel
- the identity of witnesses that the prosecution plans to use at trial, and summaries of any statements they have made
- any prior arrest histories, criminal convictions of state witnesses or codefendants in the case
- the results of any physical or mental examinations, scientific tests, comparisons or experiments in possession of the prosecution
- documents, including books, papers, photographs that the prosecution intends to use, including any that it has obtained from the defendant
- the location of any buildings, places or tangible objects that the prosecution intends to introduce at trial
The duty of the prosecution to disclose evidence that is favorable to the defense (if it is material to either the issue of guilt or to possible punishment) is ongoing from the time of arraignment until the start of trial.
The Oklahoma Rules of Criminal Discovery are complex not only to understand but to apply. They require a court order in many situations, and have also been subject to considerable changes over the years because of the effects of court decisions and legislative actions. This post is only a brief introduction to the subject of discovery. If you are ever accused of a crime, your Oklahoma defense attorney will need to be fully conversant not only in the rules themselves but also what to look for when making those rules work for you.
At the Hunsucker Legal Group, we have a full time private investigator on our staff that starts working on your case as soon as the firm is retained. Although the State is required to turn over all discovery, it is only the discovery within their control and possession. The State will not be out investigating for evidence that will assist you in your defense. Oftentimes our investigator is able to secure evidence before it is lost and unavailable (ie…local business’ video recordings). These videos have resulted in complete dismissals or reductions in charges is several of our cases.
If you or a loved one has been charged with an Oklahoma crime, contact the Hunsucker Legal Group at 405-231-5600 for your free consultation.