As we see on television programs, evidence plays a large role in a criminal case. Prosecutors must “prove beyond a reasonable doubt” that an individual committed a crime.
Often, this evidence is collected in the discovery process.
What is the discovery process?
Discovery is a procedure where both parties involved in a trial exchange information. In this process, individuals facing criminal charges can obtain information that the prosecutor collected to build a proper defense against the charges. Under Michigan law, this evidence can include:
- Police reports;
- Forensic and physical evidence reports; and
- Witness statements.
In some cases, prosecutors can recover information from the defense as well.
Discovery is important to avoid surprises at trial – unlike any television programs portray. It also ensures a fair due process and protects an individual’s rights when they face criminal charges.
A new rule requires discovery in misdemeanor cases
In the past, Michigan district courts did not have to allow the discovery process in misdemeanor cases. This meant that individuals charged with misdemeanors could not review the evidence against them.
However, the Michigan Supreme Court recently ruled that all district courts must:
- Require the discovery process in misdemeanor cases; and
- Allow the individual to review the police report.
This rule change will go into effect on May 1, 2020. This will allow individuals to build a stronger defense and have more options available to them when dealing with misdemeanor charges.
Whether individuals are facing assault charges or drug possession charges, a misdemeanor can still have a huge impact on their lives. Requiring discovery can help individuals protect their rights.