Legal Penalty for suppression of evidence
I am engaged in a criminal case where it is demonstrable the District Attorney has withheld over 80 Discovery items in this case, and a prior connected case. I can prove the DA is withholding more (items cited in police reports). What statutes [Fed/State] have possibly been violated?
1 Answer from Attorneys
Re: Legal Penalty for suppression of evidence
Your inquiry suggests that this case may or may not be pending in Indiana. While there are many common legal rules which each state follows, each may also have different variations. Having said this, you may wish to review any specific questions about these issues with an Illinois practitioner if the matter rests in that jurisdiction. Also be aware that the Federal rules of discovery are somewhat different as to what and when the prosecution is required to produce for the defense. You will find that the federal rules favor the government prosecutors much more than the state.
However, generally speaking the state is required to produce the evidence it intends on using against the defendant at the time of trial and also to reveal any exculpatory evidence helpful to the defense. Some courts as in Marion County (Indianapolis, IN) have issued a standing order that discovery is automatically required without the need to move for such. However, a specific motion for discovery can be made if that is necessary. Discovery is usually a continuos process and may not be available at one time. Yet, it would be required to be produced as it does become available.
If the prosecution can be shown that it possessed the discovery and failed to produce it as required without any reasonable explanation after repeated requests to do so, then the court may entertain imposing sanctions. Such sanctions could include ordering the evidence inadmissible at the time of trial. This takes it a way from states use and of course would place the defense in a better position. If the court under these circumstances refuses to sanction the state, this might be an issue for appeal if necessary. The argument is to deny production discovery or in a timely manner would deny the defendant of a fair trial among other issues. There may even be an ethical issue in regard to the prosecution.
Each case is different and the totality of the facts would need to be fully reviewed before any real direction or analysis could be give. Therefore the above is just for purposes of general discussion and is not intended as legal advise nor should it be relied upon as legal advise or direction applicable to a specific case
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