What is Discovery?
If you face criminal charges in Charlotte, or anywhere else in North Carolina, you may be entitled to “Discovery.”
Under the NC Criminal Laws, discovery is a process by which information about your case is made available for review and possible introduction as evidence in a trial.
Discovery in a criminal case may include things like witness statements, officer reports, body camera footage, video recordings, photographs, and criminal history reports.
It’s important to note, in certain circumstances the Discovery Laws in North Carolina may mandate the release of certain information to the State by the Defendant.
Defense lawyers in Charlotte may refer to that as “reciprocal discovery,” known as “Disclosure of Evidence by the Defendant” and may include:
- Reports of Tests and Examinations intended to be used at trial in the defense of criminal charges
- Tangible Objects and Documents like papers, photographs, and documents the defendant intends to introduce as evidence at trial
- Notice of Defenses such as the defense of insanity, duress, entrapments, self-defense, accident, involuntary intoxication and voluntary intoxication
- Witness Lists
- Notice of Expert Witnesses and their training/certifications
If you face felony charges in North Carolina, the State may be required to provide “discovery” to you or your criminal defense attorney, the “attorney of record.”
Discovery is not required for all criminal charges.
Misdemeanor charges and DWI charges in North Carolina do not always require discovery.
It is not required under statutory or constitutional law or the Common Law of North Carolina.
If the allegations are in District Court and the Superior Court does not have original jurisdiction to hear the matter, our courts have said, “There is no traditional right to discovery.”
That means under the Constitution there may not specifically be a right enumerated.
At the same time, the NC Criminal Laws have set forth a very specific process by which discovery materials are required to be disclosed and released to the Defendant as part of a criminal prosecution.
The State can, in appropriate circumstances, be required to disclose exculpatory evidence and Brady Materials.
Evidence that may tend to show the Defendant is innocent or that could be helpful to the Defendant in preparing a defense, must be disclosed by the State.
Defense lawyers refer to that as “exculpatory evidence.”
That can be pursuant to the discovery laws in North Carolina.
It also may be mandated under appellate law (decisions by Appellate Courts) and even by local policies of the District Attorney.
For example, the Mecklenburg County District Attorney’s Office has adopted a rather comprehensive, formal policy regarding the voluntary disclosure of Brady Materials and Exculpatory Evidence.
Exculpatory Evidence may relate to the credibility of witnesses, prior acts of misconduct, prior findings of perjury or false testimony, or “deals” to testify against the accused, including the dismissal of charges.What Type of Information is Included in Discovery?
What is in discovery or what is disclosed by the State depends a lot on the nature and circumstances of the criminal charges.
Complex legal matters may include forensic evidence, medical reports, autopsy reports, DNA evidence, and other materials reviewed and/or prepared by Expert Witnesses.
Generally speaking, the State ordinarily turns over things that might be used as evidence at a criminal trial pursuant to § 15A-901 - Application of Article Discovery in Superior Court.
That may include:
- Law enforcement reports and statements
- Witness statements, emails, and correspondence
- Booking Statements
- Toxicology Reports
- Rape Kit materials
- DNA evidence
- Fingerprint evidence
- Evidence of Weapons and Ammunition
- Gun Powder Stippling
- Blood Evidence
- Crime Scene Photographs
- Written Confessions
- Video Confession Evidence
- Body Camera Footage
- Door Bell / Security Camera Footage
- Drug Evidence
If you have questions about your rights to discovery in criminal charges, we recommend you consult with an experienced defense attorney immediately.
We believe it’s imperative to begin your defense without delay.
That can include gathering evidence helpful to your defense.
Call Charlotte Criminal Defense Lawyer Bill Powers now at 704-342-4357.
You can email Bill Powers too, Bill@CarolinaAttorneys.com