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Discovery refers to all materials/evidence the State plans to use at trial to show the defendant committed a crime.  It can also refer to materials the defense is required to give to the State.  

The government is constitutionally required to disclose all discovery to the defense.  In criminal cases discovery often includes police reports, medical reports, chemical testing results, probation reports, photographs, diagrams, and recordings of witness statements.  These materials must be turned over by the State after the defense attorney demands them.  Often, this demand is in a template that can be modified to fit a specific case.  At Van Severen Law Office it is our practice to demand discovery as early as possible in a criminal case.  We do this because the law indicates that the defendant only has a right to see discovery materials after they’ve been formally demanded.  The State is prohibited from hiding or not turning over discovery materials.

Certain counties, such as Milwaukee, do not turn over discovery materials until after the preliminary hearing.  Other counties turn over discovery materials as early as they’ve been demanded.

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.


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