Who Can Be Deposed in a Florida Criminal Case?
Trial preparation in a Florida criminal case starts immediately after your arrest, and there are many stages along the way in the legal process. During the time before your trial date, the prosecutor will be working to assess the existing evidence, discover new facts, and organize the details to make a strong case for convicting you. Of course, you do have the same opportunities to obtain essential information through discovery, which is governed by the Florida Rules of Criminal Procedure.
One important component of discovery is depositions, i.e., a personal interview session in which an attorney asks a witness questions under oath. Whether this is someone who may be called to testify at trial or an individual that has crucial information about the charges, the implications can be critical for your case. Your Fort Lauderdale criminal defense attorney will take charge of depositions, but you might benefit from knowing who may be deposed.
- Eyewitnesses to the Crime: Individuals who actually observed the crime or different elements of it will be first on the list for depositions. Note that the victim falls into this category when the offense involves a crime against the person or property. However, your spouse cannot be compelled to provide answers to deposition questions when they involve your private, confidential communications.
- Character Witnesses: Both sides may want to depose this type of witness when that person can offer information about the defendant’s character traits. The prosecutor will want to draw out any information that creates a negative impression for the court, while your defense lawyer will be seeking details about your positive character traits. Character witnesses are usually NOT eyewitnesses to the crime.
- Expert Witnesses: In certain cases, the evidence is of such a complex or technical nature that it is necessary to retain individuals with specialized knowledge. Expert witnesses are often called for depositions to provide details within their specialty area, such as:
- DNA evidence, such as hair, fingerprints, or blood specimens;
- Handwriting or signatures on documents;
- The defendant’s mental state, often in connection with insanity pleas; or
- Other forensic matters.
Special Considerations on Criminal Depositions: You should be aware of one important fact about depositions in criminal cases: YOU cannot be called for a deposition for the same reason that you cannot be compelled to testify in court: your Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination. Also, there are certain questions your defense lawyer cannot ask a victim in a case involving sexual assault. Florida’s rape shield law prohibits questioning about the victim’s sexual activity with any person other than the defendant.
Your Florida Criminal Defense Lawyer Will Handle Deposition Strategy
This information about who can be called for a deposition in a criminal case may be useful, but you do not need to know the details when you have skilled legal representation. Our team will advocate on your behalf throughout discovery and the criminal process, so please contact attorney Kevin J. Kulik in Fort Lauderdale. We can schedule a free consultation to review your circumstances and determine how to proceed.