Prosecutor’s Discovery Obligations in Florida

Jacksonville Criminal Laws
Jacksonville Criminal Laws

What is the Florida Law for Prosecutor’s Disclosing Information?

Have you been arrested in Clay County? Do you have a pending criminal case in Duval County? Did the state attorney file charges against you in St. Johns County? If so, your Jacksonville criminal lawyer has likely filed a notice to appear and demand for discovery. The notice to appear puts the court, state attorney, and any other interested parties on notice that you have a lawyer representing you in this matter. The demand for discovery is a request for discoverable materials from the state attorney and notice that the defendant intends to fully participate in discovery.

Why did your Jacksonville criminal lawyer file a demand for discovery? Discovery is very important in a criminal case. If the state attorney has filed charges against you, the state attorney has evidence against you. The state attorney likely believes that he or she has enough evidence to prove that you committed the crime beyond a reasonable doubt. When your Jacksonville criminal lawyer filed a demand for discovery, she is requesting evidence from the state. When you are being charged with a crime, you want to know about the evidence the state has against you, so you can prepare a better defense.

The Florida criminal law that covers discovery is Rule 3.220 of the Florida Rules of Criminal Procedure. Rule 3.220(b)(1) lists the prosecutor’s obligations when it comes to disclosing information to the defendant’s attorney. First, the defense attorney serves the notice of discovery on the prosecutor. Then, the prosecutor has 15 days to return a written discovery exhibit to the defendant. This discovery exhibits includes:

(A) a list of the names and addresses of all persons known to the prosecutor to have information that may be relevant to any offense charged or any defense thereto, or to any similar fact evidence to be presented at trial under section 90.404(2), Florida Statutes. The names and addresses of persons listed shall be clearly designated in the following categories:

(i) Category A. These witnesses shall include (1) eye witnesses, (2) alibi witnesses and rebuttal to alibi witnesses, (3) witnesses who were present when a recorded or unrecorded statement was taken from or made by a defendant or codefendant, which shall be separately identified within this category, (4) investigating officers, (5) witnesses known by the prosecutor to have any material information that tends to negate the guilt of the defendant as to any offense charged, (6) child hearsay witnesses, (7) expert witnesses who have not provided a written report and a curriculum vitae or who are going to testify, and (8) informant witnesses, whether in custody, who offer testimony concerning the statements of a defendant about the issues for which the defendant is being tried.

(ii) Category B. All witnesses not listed in either Category A or Category C.

(iii) Category C. All witnesses who performed only ministerial functions or whom the prosecutor does not intend to call at trial and whose involvement with and knowledge of the case is fully set out in a police report or other statement furnished to the defense;

(B) the statement of any person whose name is furnished in compliance with the preceding subdivision. The term “statement” as used herein includes a written statement made by the person and signed or otherwise adopted or approved by the person and also includes any statement of any kind or manner made by the person and written or recorded or summarized in any writing or recording. The term “statement” is specifically intended to include all police and investigative reports of any kind prepared for or in connection with the case, but shall not include the notes from which those reports are compiled;

(C) any written or recorded statements and the substance of any oral statements made by the defendant, including a copy of any statements contained in police reports or report summaries, together with the name and address of each witness to the statements;

(D) any written or recorded statements and the substance of any oral statements made by a codefendant;

(E) those portions of recorded grand jury minutes that contain testimony of the defendant;

(F) any tangible papers or objects that were obtained from or belonged to the defendant;

(G) whether the state has any material or information that has been provided by a confidential informant;

(H) whether there has been any electronic surveillance, including wiretapping, of the premises of the defendant or of conversations to which the defendant was a party and any documents relating thereto;

(I) whether there has been any search or seizure and any documents relating thereto;

(J) reports or statements of experts made in connection with the particular case, including results of physical or mental examinations and of scientific tests, experiments, or comparisons; and

(K) any tangible papers or objects that the prosecuting attorney intends to use in the hearing or trial and that were not obtained from or that did not belong to the defendant.

(L) any tangible paper, objects or substances in the possession of law enforcement that could be tested for DNA.

(M) whether the state has any material or information that has been provided by an informant witness, including:

(i) the substance of any statement allegedly made by the defendant about which the informant witness may testify;

(ii) a summary of the criminal history record of the informant witness;

(iii) the time and place under which the defendant’s alleged statement was made;

(iv) whether the informant witness has received, or expects to receive, anything in exchange for his or her testimony;

(v) the informant witness’ prior history of cooperation, in return for any benefit, as known to the prosecutor.

(2) If the court determines, in camera, that any police or investigative report contains irrelevant, sensitive information or information interrelated with other crimes or criminal activities and the disclosure of the contents of the police report may seriously impair law enforcement or jeopardize the investigation of those other crimes or activities, the court may prohibit or partially restrict the disclosure.

(3) The court may prohibit the state from introducing into evidence any of the foregoing material not disclosed, so as to secure and maintain fairness in the just determination of the cause.

(4) As soon as practicable after the filing of the charging document the prosecutor shall disclose to the defendant any material information within the state’s possession or control that tends to negate the guilt of the defendant as to any offense charged, regardless of whether the defendant has incurred reciprocal discovery obligations.

Fla. R. Crim. P. 3.220

 

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