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DAVID CLARK
Criminal Defense Attorney

Montgomery County Criminal Defense Investigations

As soon as a person is accused of committing a criminal offense, a legal case immediately gets prepared. The prosecution gets a head start in preparing a criminal case because the police officers have access to resources as well as national and police databases. Defense attorneys usually do not have access to these databases. Following a charge for a criminal offense, it is best to retain the help of an experienced legal professional. The sooner an attorney is retained, the sooner they can begin working on building a defense.

An attorney could explain the nuances of Montgomery County criminal defense investigations and help protect your rights. Reach out to a knowledgeable defense attorney to learn about your legal options.

Providing Access to All Information and Evidence

The government has certain requirements to provide the defense attorney, including the mandatory discovery. Discovery is paperwork created during the investigation of this case, whether it is police reports, a witness statement, or other materials. There is mandatory discovery, and there might be optional or non-mandatory discovery. It is up to a defense attorney to ascertain the existence of discovery and request it. A request for this would be made via email, written letter, in person, court, or in front of a judge, asking the judge to order over the release of that information. That can certainly be useful to the defense theory of a case and their understanding of what happened, even if the prosecution does not see how it is useful.

What is Brady information?

During Montgomery County criminal defense investigations, the prosecution has certain duties they must abide by such as turning over Brady information. Brady information comes from the Supreme Court case Brady v Maryland, which stated that all prosecutors, state and federal, have to turn over information that would tend to exonerate the defendant. Any information that is exculpatory, which shows that the charged person was not responsible for the crime, can be in the form of statements by witnesses, videos, or any variety of information. It is up to the defense attorney to make sure they are putting forth all their acquired evidence, including all documents under that specific case or rule, to make sure that they get everything possible to help defend the charged person.

Sometimes there is a disagreement between the prosecution and defense as to what constitutes Brady information. An experienced defense attorney will be prepared for those arguments. Brady information should always be requested by the defense attorney. Even though it is a legal rule that does not need to be dealt with in court, defense attorneys routinely request it, so the prosecution knows they are invoking that rule. If there is anything out there to exonerate the defendant or point to someone else as the person who committed that crime, then they want that information.

Turning Over Evidence

The government needs to turn it all information they have in a criminal case because of the basic rules of fairness and due process, and because the playing field would be lopsided. The police have certain powers of investigation and access to information that the defense attorney might not have access to. It is their responsibility, as prosecutors, to turn this information over to the defense attorney. The defense might never know that a DNA test was done and came back belonging to someone else besides the charged person.

If they kept that a secret, that would be a huge violation of their right to have a fair trial, and the case might be overturned. The Brady v. Maryland rule requires the prosecution to turn over that DNA evidence before trial, even if they do not plan on using it. They must let the defense know about it so that it does not go hidden or buried.

Common Issues With Brady Information

Defense attorneys face the fact that prosecutors can be overworked and have a large caseload. Therefore, they may not have perfect communication with all the witnesses and might not know that the police followed up on a certain investigation and had a second conversation with the witnesses.

The defense attorney may not have spoken to the complaining witness. They may not know the witness’s story has changed or that the witness had produced physical evidence that was handed over to the police but never made it to the prosecutor’s file. One problem is just procedural, administrative problems, and it is crucial for a defense attorney to realize the reality of the situation and follow up on the Brady request.

Another problem is that the prosecution does not know what defenses are going to be asserted at trial. Therefore, they might not turn over something that would be relevant to an alibi defense or a self-defense claim.

Some defenses have to be asserted ahead of time in writing, but others can be brought up on the day of trial or mid-trial. If the prosecution does not know this, they might not turn something over. To them, it is based on what the defense attorney is planning to present during the trial.

Let a Defense Attorney Help

Although a defense attorney will lack in size as to the information gathering abilities of the government, they can make it up with focus and personalized attention. The charged person knows who was there before the police arrived and what happened. This information will allow the defense attorney to bring that story forth. To do so, the lawyer will speak to the defendant, serve subpoenas for documents and surveillance footage, and gather witness statements to prove their case. The defense attorney could also conduct digital investigations to analyze social media postings or text messages sent and received. If people are posting about the situation or if there are Instagram videos that might exist, all this can be done as part of a defense investigation.

Call today to learn about Montgomery County criminal defense investigations and your legal options.