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Virginia discovery rules finally open more for felony defendants

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Virginia discovery rules finally open more for felony defendants

Virginia discovery rules finally open more for felony defendants

Fairfax criminal lawyer on major improvements as to felony cases

Virginia discovery rules are set for mid-2019 to expand substantially for Virginia felony criminal defendants. As a Fairfax criminal lawyer, I know this is big news, in the Commonwealth, which up to now is one of the most unfriendly places for protecting criminal defendants’ ability to get a fair fight in court.

The new discovery rules finally provide for a Jencks rule, covering the prosecutor’s disclosure of police and lay witness statements and writings, and to disclose their witness names. Unfortunately, the rules also require the defense to disclose their witnesses’ names. (I say unfortunately, because criminal defendants have no burden to present any witnesses nor evidence in the first place at trial.)

Virginia criminal attorney on the limits of upcoming expanded discovery rules

We do have much further to go in expanding Virginia’s criminal discovery rules, in that the new rules do not apply to misdemeanor cases, other than those that are direct indicted. I take it that the people pushing for this expansion want to first be able to show that the expansion works for felony cases, in order to then apply the expanded rules to misdemeanor cases, which constitute the vast majority of Virginia criminal prosecutions.

Thanks to Virginia capital defense lawyer Douglas Ramseur for leading the effort to expand the Virginia discovery rules

The expansion of Virginia’s discovery rules did not come without much effort and toil, led by the tireless efforts for quite some time by Virginia’s chief indigent capital case defender Douglas Ramseur. Death penalty litigation by itself can be emotionally draining and personally taxing. Bravo to Doug for having stepped forward for all these years to bring Virginia farther from the dark ages with criminal discovery.

Fairfax criminal attorney urges the state legislature not to disturb the expanded criminal discovery rules, and to apply them also to misdemeanor cases

As a Fairfax criminal lawyer, I know that prosecutors will be justified in requesting additional funding from the legislature to cover the extra humanpower that will be required to comply with the expanded Virginia discovery rules. This request for more funding must not result in legislative efforts to curb the expanded discovery rules. A necessary part of the decision to prosecute a case must be to not interfere with the defense getting a fair fight.

Virginia criminal attorney celebrates this movement in the right criminal discovery direction

As a Fairfax criminal lawyer, I see that, from a strategic standpoint, this expansion of Virginia’s felony discovery rules carries with it great momentum to have those rules apply to misdemeanor cases, as well and to increase the sensitivity of judges and others to the rights and plight of criminal defendants.

Fairfax criminal lawyer Jonathan L. Katz relishes defending people accused in felony, misdemeanor, and DUI/DWI cases. To discuss your case with Jon, please call his staff at 703-383-1100 to schedule a confidential consultation.