How Witness Identities Are Acquired in a Criminal Case

The Trial Court Determines Witness Disclosure
Obtaining witness identities is a challenge that South King criminal attorneys may face during the course of a criminal trial. Because criminal discovery rules in some jurisdictions do not entitle you to the identities of the witnesses, the trial court will determine whether or not the identities will be disclosed.

The court will decide that disclosure is necessary if your criminal defense lawyer can establish that the following elements: (1) disclosure is material to putting together your defense; and (2) disclosure is reasonable in under the circumstances surrounding your case. To determine whether the foregoing elements have been satisfied, the courts will consider many different factors including:
• If you have limited financial means, will you be able to construct a proper defense?
• Will disclosing the identity of a prosecution’s witness prior to your trial cause the witness to refuse to testify?
• Are you being accused of committing a violent crime or do you have a criminal history that includes violent crimes?
• Is most of the evidence in your case comprised of testimony related to documents?

Witness Identities Can Be Found Using Informal Methods
Rather than relying on the court’s decision, your South King criminal attorney may use informal methods of discovery in order to learn witness identities. For example, your attorney may try to get information from the prosecutor or your co-defendant’s attorney. In addition, your defense attorney may also conduct his or her own investigation into the facts of your case. One more way to identify witnesses is for your attorney to carefully look at the evidence. If your criminal case is paper-heavy, your attorney may be able to find witness identities from documents that the prosecution is required to produce. For instance, in a “Ponzi” scheme (various of which have recently captured national attention) the documents would include the names of the promoter and all the current and potential investors.

If you’d like to discuss the circumstances of your case, please call experienced King criminal attorney South King County criminal attorney for a free case evaluation.

This entry was posted in Court Hearing. Bookmark the permalink.