DISCOVERY RIGHTS FOR DEFENDANTS
Discovery rights in criminal cases is governed by Article 39.14 of the Texas Code of Criminal Procedure. This is also referred to as the Michael Morton Act. In summary, the article requires the State, upon timely request from the defendant, to produce and permit inspection and the electronic duplication, copying, and photographing on behalf of the defendant, any offense reports, designated documents, papers, written or recorded statements of the defendant or a witness (including law enforcement officers), letters, photographs, or objects or other tangible things not otherwise privileged that constitute or contain evidence material to any matter involved in the action and that are in the possession, custody, or control of the State or any person under contract with the State.
The State also MUST disclose to the defendant any exculpatory, impeachment, or mitigating document, item, or information in the possession, custody, or control of the State that tends to negate the guilt of the defendant or would tend to reduce the punishment for the offense charged.
Can I have a copy of my file?
Under Article 39.14, a defendant is NOT allowed to have copies of the information provided in discovery, other than a copy of the defendant’s own statement. The defendant is allowed to view documents and witness statements turned over to the attorney, but only after information such as addresses, telephone numbers, date of births, etc., have been redacted.