When you are a defendant in a criminal case, the prosecution can call witnesses to testify against you. Among these witnesses are any police officers that may have played a role in your arrest or the investigation against you. But what happens when your lawyer isn’t informed about the officer’s criminal past?
That’s a question officials in San Francisco are dealing with right now. Adding to their crime lab woes comes a story that just broke this week, revealing that the prosecutor wasn’t telling defense lawyers of the criminal and misconduct charges against testifying officers.
While Los Angeles has a law on the books telling prosecutors just how to go about informing defense lawyers of such issues, San Francisco does not. They are, however, required to say something. In fact, the prosecutor is required by law to tell your attorney of arrests or convictions of any witnesses against you.
So, when it was found out that San Francisco’s prosecutors were neglecting to disclose this type of information, news traveled fast.
All told, the San Francisco police department employs 80 officers who have criminal records or misconduct records according to The Gate. This number in itself isn’t unusual. However, allowing these officers to testify without giving the defense this bit of knowledge is.
Whether you are facing charges of drug possession, theft, or assault, your attorney has the right to cross-examine witnesses that the state calls against you. If it is believed these witnesses aren’t of good character, this too should be addressed. Because should the jury believe an officer who has a history of drug problems or brutality, for instance?
You deserve fair treatment under the California legal system and your attorney is there to help ensure you get it. Regardless of the charges against you and even if you are charged with a sex offense, you have rights that are protected under the Constitution.
Contact us for a consultation and criminal defense legal case evaluation.