A major overhaul of New York’s criminal law now requires prosecutors to share key information and evidence with defendants automatically and to do so much earlier in the pretrial process. The reforms, which took effect January 1, 2020, mark a major change in New York’s discovery law — once dubbed the “blindfold law” because it kept many defendants from seeing critical evidence.
The term “discovery” refers to the procedure by which prosecutors reveal the information and evidence in their possession as well as to the material itself. Discovery can include the names of witnesses, their statements, forensic evidence and a wide variety of other material.
Prior to this year’s discovery reforms, prosecutors were essentially able to force defendants to negotiate plea deals and prepare for trials without knowing what material was in the prosecutors’ hands, including evidence that might help exonerate them. To make matters worse, the old law forced defense lawyers to file written motions requesting that prosecutors turn over evidence. Those motions could be opposed and judges could deny them, again depriving defendants of crucial information.
The new reforms have removed the blindfold, which should make the discovery process much more open and fair. Some of the most important changes are as follows:
Defense lawyers and advocacy groups had fought for decades to have the law changed. According to criminal justice nonprofit The Marshall Project, New York’s discovery laws have been among of the most restrictive in the nation, often keeping discovery from the defense until just before trial.
The Law Office of James L. Riotto welcomes these sorely needed changes. Our Rochester and Albany criminal defense lawyers are already using the new law to protect the rights of our clients. If you are accused of a crime or have questions about criminal procedure in general, please call us at 866-772-2122 or contact us online today.
James L. Riotto is an accomplished criminal defense attorney serving clients in New York. With an extensive background in law enforcement and criminal prosecution, his approach to each case is unique and informed by years of experience with the New York criminal justice system. As a graduate from Albany Law School and before going on to start his own practice, James worked at the Albany County District Attorney's Office, where he helped prosecute many DWI offenses. His inside knowledge of the tactics used to gain convictions provides him with a particular advantage when defending against DUI and other criminal charges.
About Attorney Adam Staier has spent the last seven years practicing criminal defense law throughout upstate New York and the Capital Region. He began his legal career through internships in civil law, indigent legal representation and federal energy law regulation. Finding a passion in criminal law, Mr. Staier held internships handling both prosecution and defense…