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Judge John E. Turner (Ret.)

Documents that a criminal defense attorney needs

People who have been charged with a crime in Washington will have to provide their attorney with several documents including their criminal record and the arrest documentation. Criminal defense attorneys need these and other documents so that they can help their clients counter the charges. It is important that a defendant's attorney has all of the same information that the prosecution has plus any evidence of an alibi.

Some of the most important documents that a criminal defense attorney will need to obtain before defending a client are the client's arrest record and police file. The arrest record will contain information about the incident that led to a person's criminal charge, and the police file will contain information about an investigation that might have been going on before the incident.

Information about a defendant's physical and mental health will be important for the defense attorney to obtain. Proof of mental illness could allow a client to plead innocent, and proof of medication usage could explain a client's odd behavior. A criminal defense attorney may also be able to use medical records to dispute the validity of statements written in the arrest record. For example, an attorney who has evidence that the client is physically disabled may use that evidence to dispute claims that the client violently resisted arrest.

Defendants who would like to plead innocent to a criminal charge will have to provide their attorney with evidence that may prove that they did not commit the crime. A criminal defense attorney may request information about the defendant's alibi and evidence that could be used to build a paper trail. If there were witnesses to an alleged crime or witnesses who can confirm a defendant's alibi, the defendant's attorney will need information about this as well.

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