Disclosure. What is it? Why is it so Important in a Criminal Case?
Once a person has been accused of a crime and the Crown Attorney begins to pursue their prosecution that accused becomes entitled to disclosure. The disclosure is a copy of the evidence that the Crown possesses or controls that is not clearly irrelevant or privileged. In more understandable terms the disclosure is items like police notes, witness statements, forensic report and other materials the crown intends to rely on in attempting to establish the accused's guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.
When accused individuals request their disclosure, they will most often receive an initial package of information which has been prepared and vetted by the Crown Attorney’s office. One reason accused individuals greatly benefit from having a lawyer retained early in the criminal process is that a skilled criminal defence lawyer will know what is missing from the initial disclosure package. They will understand what additional information to request from the crown to help establish their theory of the case. It’s very important that accused individuals understand that they are entitled to not only information that points to their guilt but also information that points to their innocence.