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How Long Does It Take to Get Evidence in My Case?

My Case

So, you’ve hired an attorney and they have submitted a Brady Motion requesting the evidence in your case. How quickly can you expect to start reviewing that evidence?


What Kinds of Evidence Exist?

The most common forms of evidence in a criminal case are police reports and car/body camera footage, but these are not the only type of evidence. Police reports and camera footage are created on or shortly after the date of arrest by the arresting agency.

In higher court cases especially, there are likely to be additional forms of evidence such as South Carolina’s State Law Enforcement Division (SLED) drug reports, DNA reports, medical records, or surveillance videos. While these types of evidence may originate on or near the date of arrest, they often require processing by another agency before they are complete. Drug and DNA evidence must be sent for analysis before the reports can be created, and the analysis processing time can be weeks or even several months. Medical records and surveillance videos must be requested from their originating sources, and those sources may have slow processing time.

What Agency is Expected to Produce the Evidence?

The agency expected to produce the evidence to the defense is the agency named on the Brady Motion, typically either the District Attorney (on South Carolina, the Assistant Solicitor) or the Arresting Agency.

In General Sessions cases, all evidence is sent from the investigating agency to the Solicitor’s Office. The Solicitor assigned to the case is then responsible for providing that evidence to the defense.

In the Summary Court, with exceptions for DUI and Domestic Violence charges, the discovery is expected to be sent directly from the arresting agency to the defense. DUI and Domestic Violence cases in the Summary Court are run through the Solicitor’s Office in the same manner as General Sessions cases.

How Long Will It Take?

In general, discovery happens faster for Summary Court cases than for General Sessions, but nothing is going to be immediate.

If police reports/camera footage is the only form of evidence available or required in your case, and your case is in the Summary Court, you can generally expect to receive discovery fairly quickly – at least within a couple of weeks.

If your case is in the General Sessions court, the discovery must go through the Solicitor’s office. Because of that, it can often take longer for discovery to be received by the defense. In addition, if your case has further evidence, like SLED or DNA reports, it can take much longer to receive, in part because law enforcement and the prosecution can still be working on gathering or processing evidence long after the arrest is made. If additional evidence is being processed, you will likely receive discovery in multiple parts.

The Solicitor’s Office sends discovery via the mail (or it can be picked up from their office), but some agencies are able to send all evidence electronically, which can certainly speed up the process.

Overall, if you’ve recently retained an attorney on a new case, you should be ready to wait 4-6 weeks or more to receive discovery in your case. Once it’s received by the attorney’s office, you will be provided a copy and scheduled for a conference with your attorney to review what has been received.

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