Discovery refers to all materials/evidence the State plans to use at trial to show the defendant committed a crime.  It also refers to materials the defense must turn over to the State.

The Constitution of the United States of America requires the government to disclose all discovery to the defense.  In criminal cases, “discovery” typically refers to police reports, medical reports, chemical testing results, probation reports, photographs, videos, diagrams, and recording of witnesses statements.  Importantly, it’s the criminal defense attorney’s responsibility to file a “demand for discovery” requesting these materials.  That demand is certainly nothing complex, and is instead usually just a template.

While most prosecutors automatically turn over discovery materials, at Van Severen Law Office, S.C., our practice is to file a demand in every criminal case.  Importantly, section 971.23(1) of the Wisconsin Statutes indicates that discovery must only be turned over “upon demand.”  We’ve been in this business long enough to know that not all prosecutors are honest and straightforward, so simply trusting them to act on their own is foolish.  This makes it more difficult for the government to hide certain materials that might be important to your case.

Certain counties, such as Milwaukee, do not turn over discovery materials until after the preliminary hearing.  Other counties turn over discovery materials once the criminal defense attorney files the demand.

Section 971.23 of the Wisconsin Statutes discusses what must be turned over by each side.

What must the defendant disclose to the district attorney?

Again, discovery materials must only be provided upon demand.  That rule proves true for both the defendant and the government.  Once demanded, within a reasonable amount of time before trial, disclose and permit the district attorney to inspect/copy the following materials:

  • A list of witnesses, other than the defendant, whom the defendant intends to call at trial and their addresses.  This requirement doesn’t apply to rebuttal witnesses or those called for impeachment.
  • Relevant written or recorded statements of witnesses named in the witness list, including any reports or statements of experts made regarding the case.  If the expert does not prepare a report or statement, the defense must provide a written summary of the expert’s findings.
  • The criminal record of a defense witness.
  • Any physical evidence that the defendant intends to offer in evidence at trial.

Failure to provide these materials could result in a delay of your case or other penalties.

Contact Van Severen Law Office, S.C. regarding discovery issues in your criminal case.

Understanding the procedural requirements of the Wisconsin Statutes can be difficult for citizens.  As criminal defense attorneys, we regularly file demands for discovery.  We’ve even gone as far as filing motions to compel the government to provide certain materials.  As an individual not working within the confines of the criminal justice system on a daily basis, your request might not be complete enough.  Ours is.

Contact Van Severen Law Office, S.C. immediately at (414) 270-0202 regarding representation in any criminal case.

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