If you’re awaiting trial after being arrested on a misdemeanor or felony charge in Houston or Harris County, the outcome of your trial will depend on the evidence the state uses to make their case for conviction.
In order to obtain a conviction in Texas, prosecutors must convince a jury, beyond a reasonable doubt, that the defendant is guilty of committing the crime(s) they’ve been charged with. To get a jury to convict, they must submit evidence that demonstrates that the defendant is indeed guilty of the crimes they’ve been accused of.
Your defense attorney will use this evidence to achieve the opposite goal — your acquittal or reduced charges, jail time, and fines. However, before they can formulate an effective strategy to counter the prosecutor’s charges, they must first be able to examine the evidence that will be used by the state against their client.
You may be wondering: what evidence does a prosecutor have to disclose to your defense attorney? The short answer is, all of it.
Discovery in a Texas Criminal Case
Discovery is the process by which prosecutors and defense attorneys share evidence and information about a criminal case. Sharing the evidence with the defense team ensures the defendant’s rights are being protected and helps streamline the trial process.
Texas law is very specific about sharing evidence with the defense. Article 39.14 of the Texas Code of Criminal Procedure states that a prosecutor, “after receiving a timely request from the defendant,” is required to produce and permit the “inspection and the electronic duplication, copying, and photographing, by or on behalf of the defendant” of:
- Offense reports
- Documents and papers
- Crime Scene photographs
- Written or recorded statements of the defendant or witnesses)
- Statements of law enforcement officers
The prosecution does not have to disclose as evidence their notes or reports pertaining to the evidence, or “any designated books, accounts, letters, photographs, or objects or other tangible things not otherwise privileged that constitute or contain evidence material to any matter involved in the action and that are in the possession, custody, or control of the state or any person under contract with the state.”
How and Why Was the Evidence Obtained?
In addition to what evidence the prosecutor must disclose to the defense, almost as important is how and why the evidence was collected. If the evidence was collected in an illegal manner, it likely cannot be used against you in a trial. For example, law enforcement is required to have a search warrant in order to obtain evidence from private property. If the police search your home and seize property as evidence of a crime, but did so without a warrant, your defense attorney may be able to get the illegally obtained evidence suppressed, which means it can’t be used against you in a trial.
If you’ve been charged with a misdemeanor or a felony crime in Houston, it’s important to take action to protect your rights. This includes protecting yourself against any improper or illegal evidence the prosecutors might use to get their conviction.
The best way to protect yourself after you’ve been charged with a crime in Houston is to hire an experienced criminal defense attorney to handle your case.
Evidence Can Affect the Outcome of Your Trial — Protect Your Rights
Lisa Shapiro Strauss is a former County DA turned criminal defense attorney. She understands the critical role evidence can play in the outcome of a criminal court case in Texas and how prosecutors use evidence to try and obtain a conviction. Lisa doesn’t just look at the evidence, but also at how and why it was obtained. Her extensive legal knowledge and experience often result in acquittal or reduced charges for her clients.
If you’ve been charged with a misdemeanor or felony in Houston or Harris County it’s important to take steps to defend your rights. The first step is to contact the law offices of Houston Criminal Defense Attorney Lisa Shapiro Strauss. Call (713) 429-7310 today to schedule a free consultation.