Did you know that up until now, if you were charged with a misdemeanor it was not required that the prosecutor provide you with the police report used to charge you? Previously, it was left to the prosecutor whether they wanted to share items of discovery like a police report with you or your attorney. In most places, getting a police report was as simple as following the rules specified by each prosecutor’s office when making a request. In most places, prosecutors were not hiding the ball when it came to handing over items of discovery in misdemeanor cases. Unfortunately, there are still some places where defendants are not receiving the proper access to police reports and other discovery because it wasn’t required of them to provide this information until now. The Michigan Supreme Court made this decision with a 5-2 vote in favor of the change.
What Is Discovery?
Discovery in a criminal case generally includes any police reports, surveillance videos or witness statements made in relation to an alleged crime. It is basically the written or recorded information used to charge someone with a crime. The sharing of this information is essential to the fairness of criminal procedure. Information gets recorded anytime an officer interviews a witness or the defendant themselves in relation to an alleged crime. The combination of all of these interviews and other investigations end up in a series of documents that end up becoming the entirety of a police report, which is then submitted to a prosecutor for the authorization of criminal charges.
In order to properly defend criminal charges, attorneys will routinely use police reports and other discovery to test the actual police work and investigation in an effort to win cases for their clients. If the police didn’t follow a certain procedure or law, how is anyone supposed to be able to prove these mistakes without the aid of the report of the officer who actually handled the investigation wrote? Our legal system is predicated on the attempt of fairness to both sides, and the required discovery in misdemeanor cases is a step in the direction of that fairness. It is remarkable that it took this long for the Supreme Court to mandate that discovery is required to be made available to defendants and their attorneys in misdemeanor cases.
What Does This Rule Mean?
Now anytime there is a misdemeanor charge, a prosecutor’s office is required to turn over any items of discovery if requested by the defendant or his/her attorney. In most places, this really doesn’t change much as many prosecutors’ offices recognized that it would be pretty difficult to get anything done without sharing any information with the defense. This rule has strong support from CDAM (Criminal Defense Attorneys of Michigan). On the other hand, PAAM (Prosecuting Attorneys Association of Michigan) have voiced concerns that this rule change will slow down the efficient handling of cases. PAAM in a letter to the Supreme Court stated that the rule change “goes too far and will slow the efficient handling of criminal cases.” Chief Judge Bridget McCormack wrote in her opinion that “early information helps resolve cases more efficiently, conserving the resources of both the parties and the courts.” This new rule will go into effect on May 1, 2020.
Any Further Questions?
If you or a loved one has been charged with a crime or being investigated for one, then it is important to speak to an experienced criminal defense attorney immediately. At Grabel & Associates, our attorneys have over 100 years of combined experience in successfully defending criminal cases all over the state of Michigan. This experience extends not only to adult cases, but also to juvenile charges. We are not a general practice firm. We are a team of criminal defense attorneys; it’s all we do. We offer a FREE consultation to anyone with questions relating to a possible or existing criminal charge against them or a loved one. Feel free to contact us on our 24/7 defense line at 1-800-342-7896. You can also contact us online or come visit us at one of our three statewide locations. We can also come to you.