A Las Vegas Defense Lawyer Described Nevada Rules for Discovery in Criminal Cases in Nevada Under Chapter-174
When a criminal case comes before the court, the defendant needs to know what evidence the prosecutor is planning to use to try to secure a conviction. Knowing this information is essential to building the most effective defense. Prosecutors also need to be aware of some of the details of the defense which will be raised to try to avoid a guilty verdict. The process for the exchange of information between district attorneys and defendants is called discovery.
Defendants must be aware of the types of information they are entitled to obtain from prosecutors. Defendants also must review the evidence in order to develop a strategic plan to undermine the district attorney’s case and make the jury doubt whether the evidence is enough to show guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. An experienced Las Vegas defense lawyer at LV Criminal Defense can provide invaluable assistance during the discovery and inspection process.
Our firm is compromised of dedicated professionals who can conduct investigations, oversee the discovery process, prepare arguments to present in court, and otherwise do everything possible to try to help you get the best outcome you can based on the charges you face. Give us a call as soon as you can after an arrest so we can be there for you during discovery and during every other phase of your criminal case.
Understanding the Discovery and Inspection Process in Nevada
The rules for discovery and inspection in criminal cases are found within Nevada Revised Statutes sections 174.233 through 174.295. According to the relevant code sections:
- Defendants must disclose their intent to claim they have an alibi. Disclosure is required at least 10 days before trial. The notice must contain specific information about where the defendant is claiming to have been at the time the crime was committed, as well as the names and the last-known addresses of any witnesses who will be providing corroborating testimony. (N.R.S. 174.233)
- Defendants and prosecutors have to disclose witness information. If the defendant is being tried for at least one felony or gross misdemeanor, the exchange of information on witnesses must be made at least five judicial days before trial. The defendant and prosecutor each have to provide to the opposing party a written list of witnesses who will be called during the case. If the defendant is being tried for certain types of crimes and expert witnesses will be presented, notice must actually be given earlier. With expert witnesses, notice be provided 21 days before trial and the person calling the expert must detail the subject matter, the expertise and background of the expert. (N.R.S. 174.234)
- The prosecutor has to disclose evidence relating to the prosecution of the defendant. If there are any confessions, written statements, or recorded statements from the defendant or other witnesses the prosecutor intends to call, the prosecutor must give the defendant a chance to copy and/or inspect this material. The results of physical or mental exams, scientific tests, and other scientific experiments; as well as tangible documents such as books and objects that the prosecutor will be introducing as evidence, must also be provided to the defendant to inspect and/or copy. (N.R.S. 174.235).
- The defendants have to disclose some evidence to the prosecutor. This can include written and recorded statements made by witnesses who the defendant intends to call during the case; as well as the results of physical exams and scientific tests; and books, papers, and tangible objects. The prosecutor must be given the opportunity to inspect and copy this evidence.
- The court can issue protective orders which restrict or deny access to certain information during the discovery process. If either the defendant or district attorney believe a protective order is necessary to protect information and ensure it doesn’t have to be turned over, a motion can be submitted to the court. The party making the motion could submit a statement to be read in the judge’s chambers to determine if a protective order is appropriate. If a protective order is granted, the written statement would need to be preserved in the court record and made available to an appellate judge in case of appeal (N.R.S. 174.275).
There are time limits during the discovery phase, and there are also strict penalties for failure to comply with the discovery rules. Under N.R.S. 174.295, anyone who complied with discovery requirements but who subsequently found more discoverable information would need to contact the opposing party and promptly notify them of the new material. If either party fails to comply with discovery rules, the court can impose a variety of remedies including granting a continuance; ordering the discovery or inspection of materials which weren’t properly disclosed; or prohibiting the party that failed to comply with the rules from introducing the evidence in court.
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How a Las Vegas Defense Lawyer Can Help
As you prepare for a criminal trial, it is imperative you understand the rules for discovery and inspection. You do not want to have potentially exculpatory evidence excluded from being presented because you did not follow the discovery rules.
The rules for discovery are just one of the many types of criminal procedure rules which can have a profound impact on the outcome of your criminal case. You owe it to yourself to be represented by a Las Vegas defense attorney who can assist you in understanding the requirements and the steps of the discovery and inspection process.
At LV Criminal Defense, our legal team knows it is just as important to know rules of criminal procedure as it is to know the criminal laws applicable to your case. We will help with the technical aspects of preparing for trial and developing a legal defense strategy as well as with the process of presenting evidence, raising defenses, introducing doubt into the prosecutor’s case, or negotiating with the prosecutor for a favorable plea deal. To learn more about the legal services that we can offer and the ways we can help you during the discovery and investigation phase, and during all phases of your criminal case, give us a call today.