The right to representation by a competent criminal defense attorney is a fundamental principle of our criminal justice system. When a prosecutor, with the full weight of government resources at his or her disposal, chooses to file criminal charges against an individual, the defendant has the right and the need to even the odds with his or her own representation. One critical function that an experienced criminal defense attorney performs is in the discovery, preservation and admission of evidence that may vindicate the defendant – known as exculpatory evidence.
The discovery of potentially exculpatory evidence by the defendant’s attorney has resulted in a trial delay in a recent Utah case in which a Washington City man is being prosecuted for attempted murder. The defendant has been alleged to have participated in a shooting between gang members, but his attorney is requesting a delay in his jury trial because the prosecutor failed to provide potentially exculpatory evidence including transcripts of witness interviews and a CD containing other evidence gathered by police investigators.
Besides the failure to provide the defense with critical evidence, other delays have also arisen, including the possibility that the prosecutor will have to dismiss the attempted murder charges and re-file charges of assault with a deadly weapon because the defendant is clearly not guilty of attempted murder based on the evidence in the record. As shown by the problems in the above case, an experienced criminal defense attorney can serve an important role in defending his or her client against serious criminal charges by forcing the prosecution to follow the letter of the law when prosecuting criminal charges.
(Greg Smith & Associates is not representing the individual in the case mentioned above.)