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Does a defendant have a right to see the evidence in his case before a trial date is set or upon his request?

Folsom, CA |

I was charged with a crime and I was not allowed access to evidence in my case prior to the court date to set my trial date. I had asked several times to meet with the lawyer over my case. and he would never arrange a meeting. I was denied the right to see the evidence when I asked and pressured to take a plea bargain. Did I, or did I not, have the right to view and evaluate the evidence gathered in my case in sufficient time to respond to it prior to the date to set trial?

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Attorney answers 4

Posted

Yes you have the right to review the evidence and can receive redacted copies of the police reports.
Robert Driessen

Mr. Driessen is a former Deputy DA in Orange County with over 8 years of criminal law experience. Nothing stated on this site shall in anyway be construed as legal advice, or as creating any attorney client relationship. If you would like to hire Mr. Driessen, feel free to contact him at www.theocduiguy.com.

Asker

Posted

I,ll make this as brief yet as informative as possible. I was at a sports bar and didn't want to drive the short distance home. I was getting ready to walk home two blocks home with a friend and I was attacked without warning when gathering things from my truck by someone. He came up from behind me struck me and rendered me unconscious. I regained consciousness an unknown amount of time later with him continuing to strike me in my temple area and screaming at me something about Desert Storm. I managed to push him off of me and retreat to my truck and shut the door. He then pulled the door open before I could lock it and again began hitting me in my head. I felt that he was trying to kill me due to his yelling and screaming and his pursuit of me. He would not let me break off the attack. I again managed to push him away and he again returned to beat me in my head. I started up the truck while he was hitting me and yelled that I was going to back up because he was standing in the open door of the truck. He would not break off the attack and I backed the truck up and lost consciousness while doing so. Unknown to me he became entangled on the truck while I had backed up. I was concussed and disoriented and my memory at that time is foggy at best. I felt very afraid that I would be killed. According to witnesses I drove away at a very slow pace and appeared not to have known that my the person who attacked me was injured and that I had a blank look on my face. I drove the truck home and needed help from my family to get into the house. My memory remains spotty at best from the time I backed up. The police were called and they tried to interviewed me and sent me to the hospital in an ambulance due to my head injuries. The DA charged me with Hit and Run Felony and Drunk Driving because I didn't return to my attacker and render aid. I didn't know to and the only thought in my concussed mind was getting to safety. My lawyer took this case 18 months ago as a pro bono case. During that period he never informed me of, or met with me over evidence developed in my case. I had asked several times to meet with him and he would say that we would meet in a week or so, but he would never meet with me. He finally had me to his office one hour prior to the hearing to set my trial date. He stated that I had to plead a No Contest and accept a plea bargain that he had arranged with the prosecutor. He said that I would go to prison should I not accept the plea bargain. I wanted to see the evidence in the case and he refused to provide it to me. He made statements by witnesses that I know to be untrue and have been denied by one quoted witness since. She also offered to testify that they didn't make the statements. I feel I should have been allowed to view and evaluate the evidence in the case in a timely manner and that I was pressured to either take the plea bargain or go to prison. I believe I could not have given an informed consent to accept or refuse the bargain. I believed that my attorney through those actions was not invested in defending me and that taking the plea bargain was my only chance to keep myself out of prison and possibly be able to appeal the case. So my question is, did I have the right, and should I have been allowed an appropriate amount of time to evaluate the evidence and give my views on the evidence to my attorney?

Robert Laurens Driessen

Robert Laurens Driessen

Posted

I did not read the entire comment as I am not your attorney and will not give you legal advice. I will give general guidance. If you have an issue with your attorney discuss it with them or get another attorney. Robert Driessen www.theocduiguy.com

Posted

You obviously had a right to see the prosecution's evidence against you. Don't know why your attorney refused to meet with you. I would want to know if you were in custody at the time the case was going on. If my client is in custody, there may be good reasons not to give the client the police report. I certainly would review with him or her, but I wouldn't want the report circulating around the jail. And there is case law supporting this position. I never pressure clients to do anything, since it's their case and my job is to provide information and advise. They have to make the final decision.

Asker

Posted

I,ll make this as brief yet as informative as possible. I was at a sports bar and didn't want to drive the short distance home. I was getting ready to walk home two blocks home with a friend and I was attacked without warning when gathering things from my truck by someone. He came up from behind me struck me and rendered me unconscious. I regained consciousness an unknown amount of time later with him continuing to strike me in my temple area and screaming at me something about Desert Storm. I managed to push him off of me and retreat to my truck and shut the door. He then pulled the door open before I could lock it and again began hitting me in my head. I felt that he was trying to kill me due to his yelling and screaming and his pursuit of me. He would not let me break off the attack. I again managed to push him away and he again returned to beat me in my head. I started up the truck while he was hitting me and yelled that I was going to back up because he was standing in the open door of the truck. He would not break off the attack and I backed the truck up and lost consciousness while doing so. Unknown to me he became entangled on the truck while I had backed up. I was concussed and disoriented and my memory at that time is foggy at best. I felt very afraid that I would be killed. According to witnesses I drove away at a very slow pace and appeared not to have known that my the person who attacked me was injured and that I had a blank look on my face. I drove the truck home and needed help from my family to get into the house. My memory remains spotty at best from the time I backed up. The police were called and they tried to interviewed me and sent me to the hospital in an ambulance due to my head injuries. The DA charged me with Hit and Run Felony and Drunk Driving because I didn't return to my attacker and render aid. I didn't know to and the only thought in my concussed mind was getting to safety. My lawyer took this case 18 months ago as a pro bono case. During that period he never informed me of, or met with me over evidence developed in my case. I had asked several times to meet with him and he would say that we would meet in a week or so, but he would never meet with me. He finally had me to his office one hour prior to the hearing to set my trial date. He stated that I had to plead a No Contest and accept a plea bargain that he had arranged with the prosecutor. He said that I would go to prison should I not accept the plea bargain. I wanted to see the evidence in the case and he refused to provide it to me. He made statements by witnesses that I know to be untrue and have been denied by one quoted witness since. She also offered to testify that they didn't make the statements. I feel I should have been allowed to view and evaluate the evidence in the case in a timely manner and that I was pressured to either take the plea bargain or go to prison. I believe I could not have given an informed consent to accept or refuse the bargain. I believed that my attorney through those actions was not invested in defending me and that taking the plea bargain was my only chance to keep myself out of prison and possibly be able to appeal the case. So my question is, did I have the right, and should I have been allowed an appropriate amount of time to evaluate the evidence and give my views on the evidence to my attorney?

Joseph Salvatore Farina

Joseph Salvatore Farina

Posted

I thought you said brief? And why are you posting all this information on a public site? This stuff can be read by anyone, including the cops and DA. Despite this LONG recitation of the facts, my answer remains the same. You had a right to look at the evidence before deciding what to do and most importantly, to discuss it with your attorney. I noticed that you were probably heavily intoxicated and admitted that your memory was spotty, which may have colored your perception of what actually happened. If you truly believed you were innocent, why did you enter a plea? A truly innocent person would have fought the charges, as many of my clients have done, whether or not they are facing state prison. By the way, I noticed you said your attorney was pro bono. This is the main reason I never do pro bono work - you get paid nothing, you have to do lots of work, take care of your paying clients and then have to listen to being criticized when you donated your time and services. Unfortunately, you get what you pay for and legal services are no different.

Asker

Posted

Mr Farina, Thank you for the advice. I find that legal sources always want to know more. I apologize for my circumstantial post. My first response is that while was inebriated I know when I am being assaulted and when the assailant will not allow you to retire from a fight. My perception prior to his initial attack is not spotty. His assault on me was the direct cause. I was never put in jail though I had to throw bail. As for why I entered that plea? When you are suddenly informed that you have to take the plea or go to jail and you have an hour to be back in court to make the plea, and you suddenly feel that your defense attorney has no investment in your case and had never allowed you to view or respond to evidence what would your choice be? Take it and come back another day like I decided? In jail you are very limited while at home you can at least access a knowledge base at will. So............ When is another Senate run?

Joseph Salvatore Farina

Joseph Salvatore Farina

Posted

I understand that you were facing difficult circumstances and the attorney- client relationship was not what we hope for as attorneys. And of course everything I say now is nothing more than Monday morning quarterbacking. Maybe if you had spoken up at the time and told the judge about the problems you were having with attorney, the judge might have stopped everything dead in its tracks and tried to figure out what was going on. But I wasn't there and didn't see the police reports, so it's impossible for me to properly evaluate your case or your attorneys performance.. After 26 years, I know most of the criminal defense attorneys in Sacramento and most of them are hard working and decent attorneys. I thought you were out of custody, but it sounds like in jail, although I don't know what you mean by you had to "throw bail". In any event, it sounds like your case is over and finished. As for a Senate run, if I understand you correctly, my political career ended many years ago when I was much younger and had a passion for politics. Now my passion is defending my clients against the government and in particular, Sacramento County.

Posted

More information is needed here before a comprehensive answer can be given. For example, what was, if any, the reason(s) given my your counsel not to meet with you? Did your attorney or the prosecution deny you the right to see your evidence. Both have the obligation to let you see the evidence, but the prosecutor can discharge his or her obligation by giving your counsel the opportunity to view the evidence. You do have the right to see the evidence to be used against you. Indeed, it is responsible for counsel to get his client's input regarding the evidence. You are the most important source of information regarding the case to your attorney. However, your counsel is your representative with the court and proseuctor. So, understandably, most contact with you by those groups proceed through your counsel.

The information provided herein does not create an attorney-client relationship. The information provided is to suggerst some general principles and should not be relied upon for client decisions. Only upon the hiring of counsel can such advice be custom-tailored to the client's specific situation and needs.

Asker

Posted

I,ll make this as brief yet as informative as possible. I was at a sports bar and didn't want to drive the short distance home. I was getting ready to walk home two blocks home with a friend and I was attacked without warning when gathering things from my truck by someone. He came up from behind me struck me and rendered me unconscious. I regained consciousness an unknown amount of time later with him continuing to strike me in my temple area and screaming at me something about Desert Storm. I managed to push him off of me and retreat to my truck and shut the door. He then pulled the door open before I could lock it and again began hitting me in my head. I felt that he was trying to kill me due to his yelling and screaming and his pursuit of me. He would not let me break off the attack. I again managed to push him away and he again returned to beat me in my head. I started up the truck while he was hitting me and yelled that I was going to back up because he was standing in the open door of the truck. He would not break off the attack and I backed the truck up and lost consciousness while doing so. Unknown to me he became entangled on the truck while I had backed up. I was concussed and disoriented and my memory at that time is foggy at best. I felt very afraid that I would be killed. According to witnesses I drove away at a very slow pace and appeared not to have known that my the person who attacked me was injured and that I had a blank look on my face. I drove the truck home and needed help from my family to get into the house. My memory remains spotty at best from the time I backed up. The police were called and they tried to interviewed me and sent me to the hospital in an ambulance due to my head injuries. The DA charged me with Hit and Run Felony and Drunk Driving because I didn't return to my attacker and render aid. I didn't know to and the only thought in my concussed mind was getting to safety. My lawyer took this case 18 months ago as a pro bono case. During that period he never informed me of, or met with me over evidence developed in my case. I had asked several times to meet with him and he would say that we would meet in a week or so, but he would never meet with me. He finally had me to his office one hour prior to the hearing to set my trial date. He stated that I had to plead a No Contest and accept a plea bargain that he had arranged with the prosecutor. He said that I would go to prison should I not accept the plea bargain. I wanted to see the evidence in the case and he refused to provide it to me. He made statements by witnesses that I know to be untrue and have been denied by one quoted witness since. She also offered to testify that they didn't make the statements. I feel I should have been allowed to view and evaluate the evidence in the case in a timely manner and that I was pressured to either take the plea bargain or go to prison. I believe I could not have given an informed consent to accept or refuse the bargain. I believed that my attorney through those actions was not invested in defending me and that taking the plea bargain was my only chance to keep myself out of prison and possibly be able to appeal the case. So my question is, did I have the right, and should I have been allowed an appropriate amount of time to evaluate the evidence and give my views on the evidence to my attorney?

Richard Franklin Taub

Richard Franklin Taub

Posted

Now that you have decided to elaborate further on your problem, it has become obvious that you present an issue to unwieldy to be explored online. Feel free to contact my office to discuss this issue a bit further. Copy and past the following web address into your browser to reach my website and my contact information: http://www.taubcriminaldefense.com.

Posted

Understand that it is a misdemeanor for the attorney to give the defendant a police report or other investigation report which contains biographical information/contact information on the other parties to the offense. The defendant can see the names. However, the defendant cannot see birthdates, phone numbers, addresses, employment, etc. - information often noted on such reports.

Attorneys handle this in different ways. Some use a sharpie and line through the info, making sure it cannot be read from the other side of the paper. Some actually cut the information out with scissors. This is something an employee of the attorney can do. However, some lawyers are a little too busy/lazy/whatever to do that, which results in the client not getting any info at all.

But, as Mr. Farina said, there could be any number of reasons why it transpired as it did with this attorney and defendant.

Asker

Posted

I,ll make this as brief yet as informative as possible. I was at a sports bar and didn't want to drive the short distance home. I was getting ready to walk home two blocks home with a friend and I was attacked without warning when gathering things from my truck by someone. He came up from behind me struck me and rendered me unconscious. I regained consciousness an unknown amount of time later with him continuing to strike me in my temple area and screaming at me something about Desert Storm. I managed to push him off of me and retreat to my truck and shut the door. He then pulled the door open before I could lock it and again began hitting me in my head. I felt that he was trying to kill me due to his yelling and screaming and his pursuit of me. He would not let me break off the attack. I again managed to push him away and he again returned to beat me in my head. I started up the truck while he was hitting me and yelled that I was going to back up because he was standing in the open door of the truck. He would not break off the attack and I backed the truck up and lost consciousness while doing so. Unknown to me he became entangled on the truck while I had backed up. I was concussed and disoriented and my memory at that time is foggy at best. I felt very afraid that I would be killed. According to witnesses I drove away at a very slow pace and appeared not to have known that my the person who attacked me was injured and that I had a blank look on my face. I drove the truck home and needed help from my family to get into the house. My memory remains spotty at best from the time I backed up. The police were called and they tried to interviewed me and sent me to the hospital in an ambulance due to my head injuries. The DA charged me with Hit and Run Felony and Drunk Driving because I didn't return to my attacker and render aid. I didn't know to and the only thought in my concussed mind was getting to safety. My lawyer took this case 18 months ago as a pro bono case. During that period he never informed me of, or met with me over evidence developed in my case. I had asked several times to meet with him and he would say that we would meet in a week or so, but he would never meet with me. He finally had me to his office one hour prior to the hearing to set my trial date. He stated that I had to plead a No Contest and accept a plea bargain that he had arranged with the prosecutor. He said that I would go to prison should I not accept the plea bargain. I wanted to see the evidence in the case and he refused to provide it to me. He made statements by witnesses that I know to be untrue and have been denied by one quoted witness since. She also offered to testify that they didn't make the statements. I feel I should have been allowed to view and evaluate the evidence in the case in a timely manner and that I was pressured to either take the plea bargain or go to prison. I believe I could not have given an informed consent to accept or refuse the bargain. I believed that my attorney through those actions was not invested in defending me and that taking the plea bargain was my only chance to keep myself out of prison and possibly be able to appeal the case. So my question is, did I have the right, and should I have been allowed an appropriate amount of time to evaluate the evidence and give my views on the evidence to my attorney?

Gayle Anne-Marie Gutekunst

Gayle Anne-Marie Gutekunst

Posted

Of course you should have been able to have a meaningful conference with your attorney where you reviewed the evidence against you, supplied the possible evidence to assist you, discuss legal theories and strategies and participate in decision-making. (Bear in mind that what you consider "evidence" and what the law considers "evidence" suitable for a jury might be 2 very different things.) I'm afraid you are trying to close the barn door after the horse has escaped. You are not powerless. If you felt that you were unprepared to knowingly, intelligently and voluntarily enter a plea, then you should have said so to the judge when s/he asked you that when taking your plea. I don't mean to sound harsh, but that is how I see it.

Asker

Posted

Please remember that the whole judicial system speaks in a different tongue and is very intimidating to the uninitiated. When you've never had contact with the judicial system....at all..... one can be very afraid of the threat of prison.

Gayle Anne-Marie Gutekunst

Gayle Anne-Marie Gutekunst

Posted

I well understand that. Even civil attorneys can't make their way through the criminal system. I'm only saying that your time to protest your bad relationship with your defense attorney has past. You can file a Notice of Appeal with the clerk of the court where you were prosecuted. You have 60 days from the date of your sentencing. Court-appointed appellate attorneys are available if you cannot afford one. Go to the CA Courts website, look for the form Notice of Appeal under the criminal section of the forms. They're very easy to fill out - intuitive. Good luck.

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