We’re doing a series of videos talking about changes to the law in the State of California that took effect on January 1st, 2016. In this video we are going to talk about a topic that may not have a direct individual impact on you or your loved one as a defendant in a criminal case but really is an important topic for you to be aware of.
This is a change in Penal Code section 1424. This is a law that addresses prosecutorial misconduct. It doesn’t happen often, but every once in a while, it turns out, as it did in Orange County, that prosecutor has intentionally withheld evidence that would be helpful to a defendant or defense team. They knew about it. They know that it would make the defendant look innocent, so they hide it. They don’t disclose it, and the defense system doesn’t find out until it’s too late.
Again, not something that happens often, but when it does, and it has happened in the past, oftentimes the reaction from the courts has been sort of ho-hum.
Now this law reflects a new and much tougher stance towards prosecutorial misconduct by the bench, by judges in the state. Now a judge has the ability to refer a prosecutor to the state bar on their own and is required to refer a prosecutor to the state bar if they think there’s evidence that a prosecutor intentionally withheld evidence, and that the entire prosecutor’s’ office can be kicked off a case if there is found that the prosecutor on purpose intentionally withheld helpful evidence.
This tells you some of the things that you really want to be looking for when you are hiring a criminal defense attorney. You want a criminal defense attorney who’s going to be diligent, conscientious, thorough, and just generally very careful about the way they handle your case. Highly organized.
You want a defense attorney who sends written discovery requests and carefully documents each step of the process so that if in the unlikely event some prosecutor has conducted misconduct in your case and withheld evidence, your attorney has done the things necessary to be able to prove that later on if the evidence comes out.
It’s really important that your attorney have such a careful and organized approach to the case that that attorney can always say “No. I asked for that. They knew about it, and they never gave it to me until it was too late.” And then you can prove that because that can make a huge difference in your future.
Our office is always available. If you have any questions, you want to discuss this topic further, you think it may apply to your case, you’re welcome to give us a call. We offer free consultations, and we’re happy to see what we can do to help.