Experienced, Empathetic Advocacy In Family Law And Criminal Defense

3 things criminal defendants should know about state evidence

On Behalf of | Mar 14, 2024 | Criminal Defense

Someone who has been accused of a crime by the state generally has two options. They can go to trial to defend themselves, or they can plead guilty to the allegations. Oftentimes, even those who insist they did not break the law decide to plead guilty because they feel like the state’s evidence all but guarantees their conviction.

Anyone facing criminal charges needs to know about the rules that govern the state’s evidence. Familiarity with evidentiary requirements may help people to recognize that they may be able to fight their pending charges.

The state must give them access to its evidence

The right of discovery is one of the most important protections for criminal defendants. State prosecutors have to provide all requested evidence when a defense attorney invokes someone’s right of discovery. They should have access to that evidence before the trial so that they can fine-tune their defense strategy. Even exculpatory evidence that the state does not intend to present at trial should be available to the defense team prior to criminal proceedings.

Not all evidence is useful at trial

There are many rules about how police officers and investigators obtain evidence. Perhaps police officers conducted an illegal search without a warrant or someone’s permission. Maybe they questioned someone who was under arrest without informing them of their Miranda Rights. In situations where there has been a violation of the law or someone’s civil rights, it is possible to exclude certain evidence from criminal proceedings.

State analysis is fallible

People often assume that the scientific professionals employed by the state are cutting-edge experts, but that is not always the case. They can make mistakes just like anyone else. Issues with chain of custody records may raise questions about contamination and the accuracy of the state’s report on the evidence. Other times, prosecutors may rely on junk science that may not hold up in court. Defense teams sometimes bring in expert witnesses to testify on behalf of the defendant and raise questions about how the state analyzed or presented evidence.

Prosecutors typically need evidence that shows beyond a reasonable doubt that someone has broken the law. Defendants familiar with rules about evidence may feel more comfortable questioning the state’s case as part of their criminal defense strategy. Seeking personalized legal guidance is generally the best way to get started.