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Trials for Criminal Defendants In New York Are About to Completely Transform Due to Criminal Justice Reforms


An important criminal justice reform law that mandates a 15- to 30-day window for prosecutors and defense attorneys to exchange materials before arraignment (as well as a number of other changes to information that defendants have access to before trial) goes into effect in January 2020, and has prosecutors (“DAs”) claiming that Gov. Cuomo and the state of New York is not setting aside enough funding for the law to be properly implemented, leaving the burden to be picked up by county budgets and potentially affecting crime victims. Specifically, some have estimated that it could cost state law enforcement agencies approximately $100 million to implement. However, the state’s Division of Budget has pointed out that there has already been $200 million allocated to county governments specifically for this purpose and, in addition, counties are projected to save “hundreds of millions of dollars” due to the declining inmate populations.

Regardless of the funding specifics, these reforms are expected to have a significant effect on fairness towards criminal defendants in our justice system. Below, we provide an overview of their most important aspects:

Expanding Discovery to Provide Justice for Defendants

  • Defendant’s attorneys will no longer need to file a motion for discovery or demands – it will now be automatic
  • There will now be a presumption of openness in that DAs must disclose everything they have relating to the subject matter of the case
  • Where an offer requires a plea to a crime, there is a right to full discovery before withdrawal of the offer
  • Discovery must occur no later than 15 days after arraignment (and this can only be extended for up to 30 calendar days if discoverable materials are “exceptionally voluminous” or not in the DAs possession in spite of “diligent, good faith efforts”)
  • DAs must disclose defendant’s statements to law enforcement no later than 48 hours before they are scheduled to testify before a grand jury where client is arraigned on a felony complaint
  • DAs must file a “certificate of compliance” affirming that they have turned over all known information, as well as list disclosed items
  • DAs must disclose any of defendant’s “prior bad acts” that will be offered no later than 15 calendar days before trial

What Must Be Turned Over

The information that must be turned over to the defendant includes the following:

  • Defendant and co-defendants’ statements to any public servants engaged in law enforcement activities
  • Grand jury transcripts of anyone who testified, as well as names and contact information for them
  • Any and all written and/or recorded statements from individuals the DA knows have information relevant to the charges and/or potential defense
  • Expert opinion evidence and reports of scientific tests/examinations
  • All electronic recordings
  • All photos and drawings
  • All favorable evidence and information known to DAs and law enforcement
  • A list of all potentially suppressible tangible objects recovered from the defendant or co-defendant and all tangible property
  • Search warrants
  • Complete records of judgements and convictions for all DA witnesses and defendants
  • Electronically-stored information

Contact Us to Find Out More

To find out more about your rights as a criminal defendant here in New York, contact our experienced New York criminal defense attorneys at the office of Phillip J. Murphy today.




Contact Our Firm

Phillip J. Murphy,
Attorney At Law
Free Consultations Calls Answered and returned 24/7 Phone: (845) 639-6600 Fax: (845) 639-6620

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New City, New York 10956

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Phillip J. Murphy, Attorney At Law is located in New City, New York and serves clients in and around New York, New Jersey & Connecticut. Contact our experienced criminal defense law firm.
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