Covered by NYDaily News. Las Vegas man accused of threatening a prominent attorney and making vile remarks.
Covered by New York Times, and other outlets. Fake heiress accused of conning the city’s wealthy, and has an HBO special being made about her.
Accused of stalking Alec Baldwin. The case garnered nationwide attention, with USAToday, NYPost, and other media outlets following it closely.
Juror who prompted calls for new Ghislaine Maxwell trial turns to lawyer who defended Anna Sorokin.
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In 2022, Netflix released a series about one of Todd’s clients: Anna Delvey/Anna Sorokin.
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Last Updated on: 20th October 2023, 09:25 am
If you’ve been charged with a federal crime, one of the most important things you need to understand is your right to see the evidence against you through a process called discovery. The goverment has to share certain information and evidence with you and your lawyer so you can properly prepare your defense. But the rules around federal criminal discovery can be complicated. Here’s a plain English guide to help you understand your rights.
Discovery is when the prosecution (the goverment lawyers) have to share the evidence they have against you with your defense lawyer. This lets you see the case against you so you and your lawyer can start preparing your defense. Some key types of evidence they have to share include:
The prosecution usually can’t surprise you at trial with evidence you’ve never seen. Discovery is meant to avoid those kinds of “trial by ambush” situations.
Discovery starts soon after you’re arrested and charged. The timing works like this:
Your lawyer can request discovery at any time after you’re charged. The prosecution has to respond within a reasonable time. New evidence sometimes comes up later in the case too. The prosecution has to share that with you as well.
You have certain important rights during the discovery process:
In other words, you have a right to see the evidence early, and the prosecution can’t easily hide anything from you. Make sure you have a lawyer who understands discovery and will fight to get you the information you need.
Sometimes the prosecution has evidence they think is too sensitive to share openly. For example, the identity of a confidential informant, classified security information, or an undercover agent’s identity. Your lawyer still has a right to see evidence like this, but under special court rules to protect the confidentiality. This is called ex parte review.
The prosecution has to ask the judge for permission to share confidential evidence this way. Your lawyer gets to review the evidence but can’t copy or disclose it to anyone else unless the judge agrees. This balances your right to see the evidence against the need to protect legitimately confidential information.
Probably not – at least not directly. The discovery rules say the prosecution has to share evidence with your lawyer. The lawyer then reviews it and talks to you about it. The idea is to avoid risks like you accidentally revealing confidential informants or trying to intimidate witnesses.
In some cases, your lawyer might be able to arrange for you to review things like documents and photographs directly under supervision. But you don’t have an automatic right to just see the raw evidence yourself. You need your lawyer’s help to interpret the evidence and build your defense.
If the prosecution intentionally hides evidence that they were required to share, it’s called a Brady violation. This violates your Constitutional right to see the evidence against you. If a Brady violation is discovered, the judge can order sanctions against the prosecution or even throw out your conviction if you’ve already been found guilty.
In one famous Supreme Court case, Brady v. Maryland, a man named John Brady was convicted of murder based on testimony of a co-defendant. Prosecutors failed to share a statement where the co-defendant admitted he actually committed the killing himself. The Supreme Court said this violated Brady’s rights and overturned his conviction.
So if you believe the prosecution is hiding important evidence, tell your lawyer immediately. Brady violations are grounds for serious sanctions and overturning convictions. Don’t let the government railroad you by concealing the proof against you.
Here are some key tips for handling discovery:
Discovery is your friend – it lets you see the strengths and weaknesses of the case against you. Stay engaged with your lawyer, and you’ll get through it together.
Facing criminal charges is scary. But you have rights, including the right to see the evidence. Discovery lets you assess the case and plan your defense. Don’t go it alone – have an experienced lawyer to secure your discovery rights. And if the government plays games trying to hide anything, fight back hard. It’s your freedom on the line.
With smart use of discovery, you can expose flaws in the prosecution’s case and get yourself headed towards justice. Knowledge is power, so learn your discovery rights and use them.
Brady v. Maryland, 373 U.S. 83 (1963)
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