If you have been accused of a crime, one of your rights is to know the charges and evidence gathered against you. This is known as disclosure – it is the Crown’s duty to share relevant case information with the accused. For you and your criminal lawyer to make a proper defence, you must receive a copy of this information. Without disclosure, an accused person will not be able to answer and defend themselves fully against the crimes they are being charged with.
This right was won in a historic court case known as R v Stinchcombe. In this trial, the accused requested statements that were made by witnesses; it was believed that these statements contained information that would benefit their defence. The Crown refused to disclose these documents. Ultimately, this decision was overruled by the Supreme Court of Canada – they argued that the Crown was obligated to disclose this evidence to the accused person. This case set the precedent for disclosure in court: all relevant evidence, whether it’s favourable or not, must be shared with the defendant. This allows the accused person to understand the charges brought against them and prepare a suitable defence.
At your first court appearance, you should ask the Crown for your disclosure. The Crown may not always provide it, but it’s important to ask regardless. To build a proper defence for your case, you and your lawyer will need disclosure of the evidence brought against you. If you do not receive your disclosure at your first court date, keep asking for it at every subsequent appearance leading up to your trial.
The documents contained in your disclosure package may vary. In your disclosure, you may find medical records, financial documents, forensic reports, witness statements, notes from the police officer, surveillance photos or videos, and a police summary or synopsis of your case. The synopsis is the Crown’s written account of what transpired during the event that resulted in your charges. The disclosure package may also include a Crown Screening form; this will include information like what sentence will be given to you, what happens if you plead innocent or guilty, and whether a diversion has been approved. All information that’s relevant to your case should be included in your disclosure. If you suspect that some evidence is missing, you can bring this forward to the court.
After receiving your disclosure, the next step is figuring out how to factor this information into your defence. Some statements may be favourable to you and help you build a strong case for yourself. A criminal lawyer can help you comprehend the scope of your disclosure and find ways to answer some allegations within it. If you receive a copy of surveillance footage, your lawyer can examine it and determine whether it’s valid or not. Disclosure is a right that belongs to every individual accused of a crime. Without it, the defendant will not be able to answer fully to the charges brought against them. When you receive your disclosure package, you will need help from a Winnipeg criminal lawyer. Contact Brodsky Amy & Gould for representation from experienced and dedicated criminal lawyers. We’ll make sure that you receive your disclosure package and help you use its contents to build a strong case.