If you are facing federal criminal charges, you need to know that it is not the open discovery that you will find in local courts. It is governed strictly by Rule 16 of the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure. The Supreme Court cases of Brady and Giglio as well as the Jencks Act provide additional relief.

We saw this play out in the Federal case involving the Pulse nightclub shooter’s widow. The criminal defense attorney was able to use this to his client’s advantage during the trial which allowed for the client to successfully challenge the government’s evidence. Attorney Adam Pollack has many years of experience handling Federal criminal cases and can navigate this minefield to make sure your rights are protected.

Rule 16 of the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure is the chief source of law governing discovery in federal criminal cases.  Under Rule 16, once a defendant makes a demand on the government, the government is required to produce the following items:

  • the defendant’s statements,
  • the defendant’s criminal record,
  • reports of any examinations and tests, documents or other physical objects it intends to introduce at trial, and more.  
  • Rule 16 is a reciprocal rule: once the defendant invokes Rule 16 for discovery, the government can demand the same from the defendant.

Brady and Giglio

The Supreme Court has held through a series of cases, starting with Brady v. Maryland, 373 U.S. 83 (1963), that the government has a duty to produce exculpatory evidence to the defendant.  For example, if a defendant is suspected of murder, but the government has evidence that a DNA test conducted on the murder weapon does not match the defendant, the government must produce that evidence to the defendant.