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What is the Discovery for Justice Reform Act?

The Blindfold Law blocked criminal defendants from accessing information that may prevent them from blindly accepting plea bargains or sending them to trial without knowing the evidence that is being brought against them. This included defending attorneys, who were not allowed access to key evidence against their clients, including investigative reports and eyewitness testimonies. In some cases, innocent people were prompted to take plea deals even before they knew what evidence was being used to convict them of the crime. Had the evidence been brought beforehand, it may prove that there was insufficient data linking the suspect to the crime. At this point, however, the defendant already accepted a plea deal.

The Discovery for Justice Reform Act ensures the defendant’s attorney, as well as the defendants have access to the evidence earlier on in the case. Prosecutors are now required to turn over evidence pertaining to the case earlier on, giving others a chance to review the information before determining whether they want to accept a plea bargain or pursue another route of legal action.

Criminal defendants have rights, and it is important that they are allowed to build a defense case to prove their innocence. When defendants are not given all of the information involved in the case, it could lead to the wrongful conviction of innocent people. If you are caught up in such a situation, you may want to contact a criminal defense attorney regarding your legal rights and options.

Source: The Innocence Project, “Breakthrough Discovery Law Passes, Repealing State’s “Blindfold Law,” Leading to Greater Transparency and Fewer Wrongful Convictions,” Apr. 1, 2019.

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