Oftentimes a new client hires a Grand Rapids criminal defense attorney with relatively limited knowledge of the criminal justice system but some knowledge of civil cases through something like a personal injury lawsuit or a business dispute. Learning about criminal cases and depositions can be surprising because of the varieties that exist. As a result, a Grand Rapids criminal attorney has offered some insight into Michigan’s criminal depositions.
What is a Deposition?
A deposition is an out-of-court hearing where a witness to a case testifies under oath and is examined by the lawyers from both sides. It is the bread and butter of civil litigation practice. Depositions allow for early “discovery” (a technical term for investigation and information exchange between parties of a lawsuit) of the testimony of witnesses on each side and can preserve that testimony in case it is inconvenient for the witness to appear at a later trial date.
No “Discovery” Depositions in Michigan Criminal Cases
Under Michigan Court Rules, depositions are not to be taken for general discovery purposes. This can be surprising for those new to the system as they learn that they might have to ask their witnesses to severely inconvenience themselves by repeatedly putting dates to come in and testify for hearings that get continued. With this difficult process in the justice system, a good Grand Rapids criminal attorney can help with these scheduling issues.
Why the No Depositions Rule Is a Good Thing
While the rule might result in inconvenience, it is based in a defendant’s Sixth Amendment right to Confrontation with witnesses against them. Our Constitution requires that if a defendant is going to be convicted of a crime, the witnesses have to look him or her in the eye when they accuse to a jury. The thought is that it is much harder to lie to a jury of 12 when the accused is staring right at them than it is in the less solemn conditions of a lawyer’s office and a court reporter.
So while the no depositions rule can be inconvenient, it applies equal to both parties in order to protect an important Constitutional right.
Depositions to Preserve Testimony
On rare occasions, a Michigan court might allow a witness who is permanently moving out of the state or near death to participate in a deposition so that the interests of justice are preserved. In such a rare case, your Grand Rapids Criminal Attorney will work to protect your rights.
Contact a Grand Rapids Criminal Attorney
If you or a loved one are charged with a criminal offense, contact the experienced Grand Rapids criminal attorneys at Miel & Carr PLC at (616) 773-2945 for a consultation today.