New York’s New Discovery Laws
In the state of New York, criminal law has become quite the hot button issues in recent months. In early 2019, the state’s criminal justice reform has drawn a lot of scrutiny since being passed in April of 2019. Many who oppose the changes to the criminal law system, have pointed to the changes to the bail system, which have mandated that the vast majority of those charged with misdemeanors and nonviolent felonies are now to be released without the need for any bail. This has helped many of those individuals who under previous laws couldn’t afford to be bailed out, as well as those who were falsely charged and simply needed their day in court to plead their innocence – rather than having an innocent person waiting behind bars for what can end up being a year, they can now handle things from the comforts of their own home. However, according to Mr. Frank Galchus, the best criminal attorney Queens has to offer more so than the changes to the state’s discovery laws, rules governing how and when the prosecution must turn over evidence to the defense, have been maligned by most – even those that are considered to be the most progressive of prosecutors. Learn how the discovery reform has altered the criminal law system in New York below.
During a number of recent criminal trials, issues such as witness intimidation have greatly affected how the courts see the system running – in fact, according to Mr. Frank Galchus, the best criminal attorney Queens has in practice, in one well known trial of an MS-13 gang member on Long Island, the murder of a witness has led many in the legal world to push for reform and how evidentiary information is given out to those in the defense. To understand the process its important that we understand what exactly discovery is. When used in the vein of a criminal trial, discovery refers to the evidence in a trial and the process of both sides exchanging relevant information before a trial begins. It enables both the prosecution and the defense to build their cases based on all available evidence. Information obtained and exchanged during discovery can include witness statements, physical evidence, police interrogations, witness lists and other information that could play a role in the trial. The discovery process tries to ensure that neither side is surprised by certain pieces of damning evidence on the spot, during the case with information that is known but concealed by one side.
As the best criminal attorney Queens has practicing, Mr. Frank Galchus has been tasked with defending countless individuals with criminal charges. And as such, these changes to the discovery system have helped his clients quite a bit. The biggest change to discovery is that prosecutors must automatically hand over relevant information in a timely fashion. Previously, state law required discovery only if the defense filed a written request for it. It also imposed no time frame for discovery after the request was made, so prosecutors used to be able to keep relevant information from the defense until the eve of a trial. This often meant that those defendants and their legal teams were ill-prepared and had no chance of defending what was often, the most difficult aspects of the case. As anyone who is looking for the biggest advantage in the case, prosecutors would save the most valuable pieces of evidence for the eve of the trial – meaning that mounting a defense for that evidence was nearly impossible.
Under the new law, prosecutors must provide the defense with all evidence it has access to within 15 days of an arraignment. However, that time frame can be extended by another 30 days if there is a large volume of material, or if prosecutors don’t have the material in their possession after 15 days. Once the prosecution has handed over all discoverable material, the defense has 30 days to turn over all of its discoverable material. These changes while still argued by many on either side, have made for far more fair trial conditions. For more information on criminal law, or to schedule a consult, be sure to contact Mr. Galchus today.