DISCLOSURE – WHAT IS IT ANYWAY?
Disclosure is essentially the “evidence” that the crown has against you. After the police complete their investigation and compile all their evidence, they will send it to the crown prosecutor who will then provide it to you or your lawyer. The right to disclosure has been part of our justice system for years. Being provided with full disclosure allows me as a defence lawyer to know the case against you in order to be able to defence you against the charges.
WHAT IS INCLUDED IN DISCLOSURE?
Depending on your charges, what is included in disclosure may vary. Generally it includes a synopsis or description of the alleged offence, police notes, witness statements (whether written or recorded), any statement you may have given, the “information” which is the legal document containing your charges, and your release paperwork.
It may also include but is not limited to things such as photos of a crime scene or evidence, DNA tests, fingerprint analysis, police body worn camera footage, police vehicle footage from both inside and outside the car, CCTV footage from any cameras that may have been around, CCTV footage from the police station and your holding cell, search warrants, technology reports and analysis, drug analysis, firearm analysis, phone records, bank statements, and breathalyser results.
The disclosure included becomes more technical and extensive or voluminous from the breadth of the police investigation and the amount and seriousness of your charges. It can range from twenty to thousands of pages. How long it takes to arrive depends again on the extent of disclosure and any backlogs in the disclosure system which has been ongoing given the current pandemic. It is not uncommon and there is no need to worry if disclosure does not arrive prior to your first court appearance.
HOW CAN MY ACTIONS NOW AFFECT ME LATER?
Given you will not know the extent of the police investigation, it is crucial you do not speak with anyone about your matters. If the police attempt to get you to give a statement to them (interview), contact me right away as providing a statement can have a dire impact on your case!! The police will be looking for any admissions they can get you to make or any inconsistencies with what other witnesses may be saying or with what other evidence may show. Given you will not know what information or evidence they have, even something that seems unrelated or unimportant, can be detrimental to your case in the long term. It is also important you also do not speak with anyone else about your charges as they could be called as a witness against you. Depending on your charges and the nature of the investigation against you, it may also be important to limit your cell phone and internet usage. Do not hesitate to speak with me if you are concerned about charges you may have or think you may be under investigation.
People often think that by explaining themselves or their innocence to the police, that it will help the situation or help them avoid charges; in most instances, this could not be further from the truth. During your explanation, you will not know how certain information you give may actually tie you to the crime instead of proving your innocence. Once you retain a lawyer, what you said in a statement often limits certain defences. It is always best to contact a lawyer before you elect to provide a statement to police. I will be able to provide you with legal advice that will protect you from running the risk of incriminating yourself.