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Orlando Criminal Defense Lawyer > Blog > Juvenile Crime > What Happens When Florida Prosecutors Violate Discovery Rules in Juvenile Proceedings?

What Happens When Florida Prosecutors Violate Discovery Rules in Juvenile Proceedings?


In any criminal case, Florida law imposes certain discovery obligations on the state. Discovery is the pretrial process where both parties exchange certain information. Notably, prosecutors are required to disclose the names and addresses of any witnesses who may have information that is relevant to the case.

If the defense believes that the state violated its discovery obligations, it can ask the trial court to conduct what is known as a Richardson hearing. The purpose of a hearing is to determine (a) if the prosecution actually committed a discovery violation, and if so (b) whether that violation prejudiced the defendant’s right to a fair trial. Assuming there was prejudice, the judge can then order an appropriate remedy, which may include ordering a new trial or even dismissing the case outright.

Florida Appeals Court Orders New Trial in Juvenile Burglary Case

Similar discovery rules apply to juvenile court hearings to determine if a minor has committed a crime. For example, the Florida Second District Court of Appeal recently ordered a new adjudication in a case where the trial court failed to conduct a required Richardson hearing. The case, T.M. v. State, centered on allegations that the minor stole some property.

During pretrial discovery, the prosecution produced a police report that stated the minor “provided a confession” and returned some of the stolen property in question. A police officer was listed as the author of the report. Separately, the prosecution identified a second police officer on its witness list. The second officer subsequently testified at the minor’s adjudicatory hearing, which is the juvenile equivalent of an adult criminal trial.

The officer testified that the minor turned himself in. The officer then placed the defendant under arrest, issued a Miranda warning, and took the minor’s statement. At this point, the minor’s defense attorney objected and alleged the state committed a discovery violation. Specifically, the state never disclosed that this second officer was actually involved in obtaining the confession. The report only listed the first officer. On this basis, the defense asked the court to conduct a Richardson hearing. The judge declined to do so and ultimately found the minor guilty of burglary.

On appeal, the Second District agreed with the minor’s attorney that the state did commit a discovery violation by failing to separately identify the officer who testified as a witness to the confession. And since the officer’s testimony was the only evidence linking the minor to the alleged burglary, the appellate court said it “cannot say beyond a reasonable doubt” that the violation deprived the minor of his right to a fair trial. A new adjudicatory hearing was therefore necessary.

Contact the Joshi Law Firm Today

If your child has been accused of committing a serious offense like burglary, you need to work with an experienced Orlando juvenile crime lawyer who will protect their rights and ensure they receive a zealous defense. Call the Joshi Law Firm, PA, today at 844-GO-JOSHI or contact us online to schedule a free initial consultation.



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