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The Rules of Discovery in Colorado

Posted on May 15, 2024 in

Understanding the rules of discovery in Colorado is complex. The term discovery refers to exchanging information by parties involved in a criminal defense case or other types of legal matter. These rules require that all parties share evidence and information. A Lakewood criminal defense lawyer from the Law Offices of James L. Finnegan, P.C., can assist with your case.

Understanding Discovery in Colorado

When a person is charged with a crime, the prosecutor must provide a factual basis for those crimes. The defendant has the right to know the information used to decide whether to charge them with a crime. Discoverable materials, or those that must be made available, including:

  • Witness statements
  • Police reports
  • Criminal history documentation
  • Photos
  • Lab reports
  • Interviews
  • Any other information that may present the defendant as guilty

This includes all types of reports or statements that could be used against a party in a criminal charge. The prosecution should generate and produce these materials on time. Under the state’s laws, the prosecutor should provide this information as soon as possible but no longer than 20 days from filing the charges. The prosecutor must also ensure that this information is shared and in the possession of those who should have it. These disclosures must be provided even when the defense does not outright request them.

The court can rule on whether or not specific material is relevant to the trial or if it needs to be shared. The trial court may determine what is relevant and what is not based on various factors. The court may deny discretionary disclosures in situations where it believes one of the following could occur:

  • There is a substantial risk to one or several people
  • Physical harm, intimidation, bribery, or economic reprisals may occur
  • There are unnecessary annoyances of embarrassment associated with them
  • And these outweigh any usefulness to the defense

Not all information is considered discoverable information, either. For example, the prosecutor’s notes or any worksheet they use to gather data is not considered discoverable automatically, though there may be situations where this information is sought.

Understanding Defense Disclosures

Defense disclosures will fall under the limitations of the US Constitution. All mandatory disclosures must be made to the prosecutor at least 30 days before the trial begins. This includes the nature of the defense that will be used in the court and any notice of alibi that shows where the defendant was (and this must include the names and addresses of those who will be alibi witnesses in the case). Additionally, it must include all names and addresses of the defense witnesses that are likely to be called at the time of trial.

The discovery rules aim to provide a way for both parties to prepare for what is to come. In every situation, this information is critical to creating a solid defense strategy when facing serious charges in a court of law.