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Rules of disclosure in a criminal defense case

On Behalf of | Mar 17, 2022 | Criminal Defense

Both the prosecution and the defense must adhere to specific rules of disclosure in a criminal court case under Minnesota law. This ensures that both sides have access to much of the relevant information that could determine the outcome of a case.

These court rules hold for felonies and gross misdemeanors and to a lesser extent for misdemeanors.

Prosecution requirements

According to the Minnesota Office of the Revisor of Statutes, a prosecutor must disclose certain information to the defense within a reasonable time frame. This requirement applies, with a few exceptions, to many matters related to the case:

  • The names and addresses of witnesses
  • The criminal convictions of witnesses
  • Relevant written or recorded statements
  • Summaries of oral statements
  • Law enforcement reports from officers
  • Exculpatory evidence that could negate guilt

The prosecution also has a legal obligation to allow the defense to inspect or reproduce any of the above information. The defense also has the right to inspect or photograph applicable information or objects such as a building or other space.

Defense obligations

Fairness requires the defense to act similarly, allowing the prosecution access to information obtained by the defense team. The defense must also disclose before a trial any defense strategy other than non-guilty, including the following:

  • Self-defense
  • Entrapment
  • Mental illness or cognitive impairment
  • Intoxication
  • Double jeopardy
  • Duress

Special disclosure rules apply to an entrapment or alibi defense. The rules of disclosure require both parties to provide information promptly so that it affords the counsel time to utilize the information. Both parties must also disclose new information as it becomes available.

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