How Will the Public Defender Prepare My Case?
Defense Case Preparation
If the case is set for trial, the defense attorney will begin preparation by
filing motions, investigating allegations and other aspects of the case as well
as, deposing and interviewing witnesses. The client has the right to assist in
the preparation of his own defense. One of the most significant ways a client
can assist in the preparation of his defense is by providing the defense
attorney with the names and addresses of witnesses not listed by the
prosecution, who can testify to circumstances that may prove the client is not
guilty or help show that the crime was not as serious as the prosecutor
contends. The client and his family must not contact the alleged victim or the
witnesses listed by the prosecution or send other people to talk to them because
the prosecutor may charge the client with an additional crime of tampering with
witnesses. It is the defense attorney’s job to speak to the witnesses and
alleged victim. The defense attorney may file motions requesting the witness
list, police reports, witnesses' statements, reports of experts and any other
evidence in the case.
The process by which the prosecution and the defense search for the facts of the
case is called “discovery.” The deposition of witnesses is a discovery tool for
uncovering the facts. In a deposition, the prosecutor and defense counsel are
present to take the sworn statements of witnesses. Discovery depositions are very
useful for both sides because it allows them to evaluate the strengths and
weaknesses of the case prior to trial. The defense attorney may speak with the
prosecutor to get some idea of the prosecutor’s evaluation of the case.
Depending on the strength of the defense’s case, the prosecutor may decide to
dismiss all charges, offer a lesser sentence or drop some of the charges against
the client in exchange for a plea of guilty or no contest to other charges. In
nearly 98% of felony cases, there is no trial. Cases are disposed of by the
prosecutor not filing charges, the case being dismissed or the client entering a
guilty or no contest plea or completing a diversion program.