Search Site
IBC Centre, 130 East Travis Street, Suite #425 | San Antonio, TX 78205

Prosecutors Must Now Disclose All Relevant Evidence to Defense Counsel

A Texas Court of Criminal Appeals ruling makes it clear that prosecutors must disclose to defense counsel nearly all evidence in their possession — a potential landmark decision that could greatly enhance fairness in the state’s criminal justice system.

The ruling, in Hopkins v. State, comes eight years after Texas last overhauled its criminal discovery rules. The Michael Morton Act of 2013 mandated the exchange of more information, specifically by requiring prosecutors to turn over to the defense any evidence that is “material to any matter involved in the action.”

In Hopkins, the court clarified the definition of material evidence, holding that the word “material” is synonymous with “relevant.” Therefore, evidence is considered “material” if it might have a persuasive effect on any issue in the case. Prosecutors must assess whether a particular piece of evidence requested by the defense has a logical connection to the facts of the case. If the answer is yes, then the evidence must be given to the criminal defense attorney.

The court was explicit in explaining prosecutors’ discovery obligations under the Morton Act, stating: “On the whole, the [act] broadened criminal discovery for defendants, making disclosure the rule and nondisclosure the exception.” The court added that prosecutors have “a free-standing duty to disclose all ‘exculpatory, impeaching, and mitigating’ evidence to the defense that tends to negate guilt or reduce punishment.”

The Hopkins decision is welcome news for defendants and their attorneys. Prosecutors no longer will be able to hide the ball during the discovery phase of a case. If a defendant requests evidence that is in some way relevant to an issue in the case, and if the evidence is not protected by a privilege (such as the confidential informant privilege), prosecutors must allow the defense to see it before trial.

At The Law Offices of Kevin Collins in San Antonio, we welcome the Court’s clarification of the Texas discovery rules. As criminal defense attorneys, we are aggressive in obtaining disclosure of all evidence in the prosecutor’s possession in order to protect our clients’ rights. If you need a criminal defense lawyer in South Texas, please call 210-598-8629 or contact us online for a consultation.

COVID-19 Notice
We are here to help and support you through these generally challenging times with your specific legal issues. You will be able to reach me or my staff through our main telephone numbers, and of course by email: [email protected]. Phone conferences for existing and potential clients are available, as is the video conference feature through the Zoom app. Zoom may present some privacy challenges so phone conferences are preferred. Please take care of your health by following the measures recommended by the CDC, and by state and local authorities.
Firm Recognition
  • Super Lawyers
    Best Law Firms 2021
  • Three Best Rated
  • ThreeBest Rated
Client Reviews
  • google

    Bexar County is a very challenging and difficult judicial system to work with. The prosecutors struggle with staffing shortages and the judges are overloaded with cases. This makes it very difficult to do anything with a case in a timely manner. Mr. ...

    Read more

    Andy Mullen

  • google

    I truly appreciate that Mr. Collins was straight forward and kept me informed every step of the way. He was willing to go the extra mile to help build a strong case, but kept me level headed throughout the process. He was open with the fact that the ...

    Read more

    Brie Wrinkle

  • google

    Words cannot truly describe how amazing this attorney is . Great sense of professionalism and work ethic to say the least . Not only that he understands the law inside and out, and will put you first . Would highly advise to choose him as your attorn...

    Read more

    Gustavo Gomez

  • google

    Kevin Collins represented me in a D.V. case. Dismissal. His preparation and intellect are remarkable. He's a league above his peers and competion. Follow his instructions and heed his advice. Not many people are built for this type of work. Kevin Col...

    Read more

    Warren B.

  • google

    Kevin Collins is by far the best man for the job. Almost immediately as I talk to him on the phon I felt calm and reassuring. He started the process and handled it, very efficient and got the job done. He also responds to my calls very quickly and ke...

    Read more

    Aretha Jones

See all reviews
Case Results
State of Texas v. J.T. Furnishing Alcohol to a minor dismissed after start of trial despite death caused by accident
View All
Contact us

Quick Contact Form