Every competent legal defense is grounded in hard evidence, whether witness testimony, forensics, or even expert testimony. For a defendant and their defense counsel, obtaining this evidence is crucial to mounting any reasonable defense in the court of law. There is the discovery period, where the prosecutor’s office shares information with defendants, but a good defense requires further evidence, which may be harder to obtain. One of the difficult areas defendants and defense counsel face is obtaining testimonial evidence, or statements, from other parties involved in an alleged crime, which may even include the alleged victim of the crime. Clearly, some victims will feel intimidated by the reappearance of their alleged attacker, and even attempts to contact certain parties before trial may be construed as intimidation or conspiracy by the courts. For this reason, consulting an experienced criminal law attorney is essential to avoid incurring further criminal charges while attempting to build your criminal defense.
A defendant, usually through their defense attorney, can ascertain statements and other information from individuals that the prosecutor intends to use as witnesses during trial. During the discover process, the prosecutor must provide the names and addresses of the individuals they intend to utilize as witnesses during trial, which gives the defense a clear indicator of who they should interview. However, the process of interviewing the prosecutor’s witnesses, which may include the alleged victim of a crime, is not always possible in certain circumstances. Under no circumstances should a defendant conduct their own informal interviews or attempt to contact victims of a given crime, which may be viewed as intimidation, another crime, by the courts.
Some of the preeminent laws and policies concerning defense attorneys interviewing the prosecution’s witnesses include:
Although prosecutors are required to provide witness statements during the discovery period, it is not guaranteed these witness statements are accurate, complete, or even from a credible source. Investigating the source of information, fact checking, and even obtaining another statement from a witness may expose serious flaws or other discrepancies in a prosecutor’s case.
Aside from directly interviewing prosecutor’s witnesses, whether via your attorney or a private investigator, there are other methods to build beneficial information before your criminal trial. Some of more commonly used approaches include: