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Advocates Rally Against New York’s “Blindfold” Law

August 10, 2017, on Criminal Defense Articles |

When you are accused of breaking the law, a lot is at stake. Your future hangs in the balance and you want to make sure you have a skilled Albany criminal defense attorney who can provide you with help in putting together a strong strategy for responding to charges.  Unfortunately, defense lawyers and defendants are at a disadvantage in New York, when compared to other states, because New York is one of a minority of states that does not require evidence to be turned over to defense attorneys in advance of trial.

According to NY Daily News, advocates are rallying against a New York law which allows for prosecutors to keep information from defendants and defense attorneys until the last minute.  Hopefully, their efforts could prompt changes that will give defendants and their attorneys more time to review evidence and raise appropriate defenses.

Advocates Argue New York Law Disadvantages Defendants

At a rally outside of Manhattan Criminal Court, advocates explained their grievances with New York's current laws that allow prosecutors to blindside defendants with important evidence in criminal proceedings. According to the New York Daily News, the opportunity for justice is being limited for defendants because New York is just one of four states in the U.S. with a “Blindfold Law” that does not require police reports or witness statements to be provided by prosecutors to the defense until the day a trial starts.  The other states include South Carolina, Louisiana and Wyoming.

With so little time to review the evidence and prepare a response, it is much harder for defense attorneys to represent their clients with the highest level of effectiveness. Around 40 people were present at the Manhattan Criminal Court to argue for reforms to these unfair laws, and they have the support of the New York Bar Association.

The New York Bar Association has actually proposed legislation that would remedy the problem by ensuring that defense attorneys have more time to review evidence.  The Bar Association's proposed bill would mandate that prosecutors in criminal cases turn over evidence to the defense and defendant's attorney within 15 days of the time when the defendant is arraigned on an indictment. Some of the specific types of evidence which the New York Bar Association's proposed law would require prosecutors to turn over include electronic police reports, statements from witnesses, the sworn statement which the defendant made, and records of property that were recovered from the defendant. 

Several NY assemblymen have introduced bills to modernize the laws and improve fairness, but these bills did not make it out of committee. Hopefully, the rallies that are being held and the focus on the need for reforms will prompt lawmakers to act to change the rules.

Regardless of whether the law is changed or not, an Albany criminal defense attorney can provide assistance to defendants in understanding what their rights are and in building a defense in response to available evidence. The goal is to maximize the chances of an acquittal, and our legal team will provide the assistance necessary to create a sound trial strategy to fight for your future. Contact The Law Office of James E. Tyner, PLLC today to find out more.

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