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Posted on April 13, 2022 in Criminal Defense

What Does “Motion For Discovery” Actually Mean in a Docket Entry?

You may see an entry on the criminal court docket for a “Motion for Discovery” in your case. Your criminal lawyer generally handles filing these motions as part of your defense against criminal charges. A motion to obtain discovery is a valuable tool for a criminal defense lawyer to use to collect evidence for your defense. Continue reading to learn more.

What Is Discovery?

Pre-trial discovery is the process of gathering information and evidence to prepare for trial. The prosecution cannot use any documents, witnesses, or other evidence at trial that it failed to disclose during discovery.

Arizona Criminal Procedure Rule 15.1 provides the rules for the State’s disclosures in a criminal case. A Motion for Discovery may be necessary if the prosecution refuses to turn over evidence or fails to provide discovery in a timely manner.

What Are the Deadlines for Providing Discovery in an Arizona Criminal Court Proceeding?

The State must make an initial disclosure at the first pre-trial conference in misdemeanor cases. If you are charged with a felony, the prosecutor must make the initial disclosure by the preliminary hearing or the arraignment if there is no preliminary hearing.

What Is Included in the State’s Initial Disclosure in a Criminal Case?

Generally, the State includes numerous documents and evidence with its initial disclosure. 

Evidence that you or your attorney may receive from the prosecution includes:

  • Copies of police reports 
  • A list of videos, audio recordings, and other evidence in the State’s possession
  • Search and arrest warrant information
  • A list of witnesses for the prosecution 
  • Photographs
  • Results of chemical tests for blood alcohol content (BAC) or drug use
  • A list of tangible objects that will be used at trial 

The initial disclosure begins the discovery process. Prosecutors only provide the bare minimum required by the rules. 

Therefore, a defendant should request additional discovery to ensure they receive all evidence the State has against them. Additional discovery requests must be answered within 30 days of the request. However, the State may ask the court for more time, which the court generally grants. 

What Happens if the Prosecution Refuses to Turn Over Evidence During Discovery?

The defendant’s attorney may file a motion with the court compelling discovery. Depending on the facts and circumstances, the defendant may request sanctions against the State for failing to comply with a Motion for Discovery. 

Sanctions for failing to provide discovery could include:

  • Preclusion of the material (not allowing the evidence to be used at trial)
  • A continuance of the case
  • Dismissal of the case
  • Other remedies that the court deems just and proper

The requirement for disclosure pertains to information in the control and possession of the prosecution. If the prosecution receives additional evidence, it has an ongoing duty to disclose the information. A final disclosure must be made at least seven days before the beginning of the trial.

Discovery in a Criminal Case Goes Beyond the Prosecution

The defense has the right to interview witnesses that the State intends to produce at trial. That includes police officers, eyewitnesses, and expert witnesses. 

However, victims of a crime are exempt from interviews. They may voluntarily consent to an interview, but they are not required by law to do so.

If other witnesses refuse to submit to an interview with the defense, the defense may request an order from the court requiring the witness to appear at a deposition. If the witness refuses the court order, the court could hold the witness in contempt. Also, the court could prevent the witness from testifying at trial.

Interviewing witnesses can be an essential part of the discovery process. A criminal defense lawyer obtains information from the witness’s testimony. However, the attorney also has the opportunity to judge how the witness will perform on the stand. 

Carefully reviewing the State’s evidence could lead the defense to other evidence in the case. The attorney must determine whether to pursue the evidence. Some evidence could hurt the defense’s strategy.

If you need to obtain evidence from other parties, a subpoena may be used to obtain the evidence. A subpoena is a court order requiring a party to provide materials or documentation. 

What Should I Do if I Don’t Understand the Discovery Process in an Arizona Criminal Case?

Phoenix criminal defense lawyers understand the discovery process and know how to use it to gather evidence. Building a defense to criminal charges is essential, regardless of whether you are innocent or guilty.

If you are unsure what you need to do after an arrest, ask a criminal defense attorney. You have the right to counsel. 

The prosecutor and police officers already think you are guilty. Any advice you receive from them will be for the purpose of gathering more evidence they can use against you. Make sure you seek legal advice that is in your best interest. 

Contact the Criminal Defense Lawyers at Orent Law Offices In Phoenix To Get Legal Assistance Today

For more information, contact the criminal defense attorney Craig Orent. Give us a call at (480) 656-7301 or visit our law office at 11811 N Tatum Blvd UNIT 3031, Phoenix, AZ 85028. We offer a free case evaluation, so get the help you deserve today.

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