Depositions in Florida Drug Cases
The evidence that the prosecution and defense present at a criminal trial is a surprise to the jury, but it is not a surprise to the defendant. Before the trial, there is a long process where both sides search for and examine evidence and form the arguments that they plan to present at trial. A defendant’s right to due process of law requires the prosecution to reveal to the defendant’s lawyer all evidence that may help the defendant prove his or her case. The discovery process may involve questioning witnesses in a process called a deposition. In criminal cases, the lawyers cannot depose the defendant, meaning that they cannot question him or her in a deposition, but they can depose anyone else that they think has relevant information about the case. Witness testimony from depositions can be important in some types of drug-related cases. To find out whether deposing witnesses will help you prove your innocence in your drug case, contact a Florida drug offenses attorney.
Why Would the Court Order a Deposition in a Drug Crimes Case?
A deposition is a lot like when a witness testifies at trial, except it takes place before the trial, when the lawyers are still building their cases. The witness must take an oath to tell the truth, and witnesses who lie during depositions can be charged with perjury. Both lawyers can ask questions to the witness, just like at a trial. The difference is that the judge and jury are not present at a deposition, and the deposition takes place in a lawyer’s office instead of a courtroom. A court reporter attends the deposition and writes a transcript of the questions and answers.
Depositions are a very common part of civil cases, such as business disputes and personal injury lawsuits. In civil cases, the purpose of a deposition is to help the plaintiff and defendant agree on a settlement. In criminal cases, the lawyers are trying to decide which evidence and testimony to present at trial. Criminal courts strongly prefer for juries to hear live testimony, so they can judge the credibility of the witness by his or her body language and tone of voice. Therefore, witnesses who previously gave depositions in criminal cases may also appear at trial.
In a drug case, the court might order a deposition of eyewitnesses who were present at the time of the alleged crime, such as the employees and customers who were present at the gas station where the alleged drug deal took place. They might also depose family members and friends of the defendant or people who were accused of conspiring with the defendant to commit a drug crime.
Do Depositions Help Defendants in Criminal Cases?
Defendants in criminal cases may not give depositions. This would violate the Fifth Amendment right to remain silent to avoid self-incrimination. If prosecutors could depose you before trial, then at your trial, they could say, “He pleaded the Fifth Amendment X times, so he must be guilty!” In general, depositions in criminal cases help defendants, because the more information you can find out to support your arguments, the better.
Contact FL Drug Defense Group About Fighting Drug Charges
A Central Florida criminal defense lawyer can help you if you plan to fight your drug charges and go to trial. Contact FL Drug Defense Group in Orlando, Florida to discuss your case.