1. Ryan Elder

    Ryan Elder Senior Member

    Apr 15, 2015
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    Are defense lawyers allowed to talk to witnesses?

    Discussion in 'Research' started by Ryan Elder, Sep 6, 2015.

    I have asked other writers before, about whether or not a defense attorney can speak to a witness in a case.

    I was often told no, they are only allowed to do so at depositions with the prosecutor present. I have a story I would like to develop better, and in this story, the defense attorney and the witness are working together in a scheme, but will be tricky of they are legally allowed no contact.

    So since I was told by many people that they cannot talk to witnesses, I found some lawyers and asked them for research. However, they all said that you can and that they have done so, many times. I even found this article that says that they can as well:


    Now in my story, of course it is illegal for a defense attorney and a witness to be working together. I just need them to legally get together and talk for their plan to work, where the case will not be thrown out, just because he called her about it, or met up with her about it to ask questions.

    Now it seems that the lawyers I have talked to, say it is perfectly legal, but all the writers and other people I have talked to, say it is not. Which is it though? There must be some law that says if you can or not, instead of everyone being in disagreement all the time? Why can no one agree on what the law actually is? Can the judges even agree?
  2. Sack-a-Doo!

    Sack-a-Doo! Contributor Contributor

    Jun 7, 2015
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    As far as I know, it's legal, but in England, it's considered unethical. In the U.S., it isn't. Sadly, I have no idea where Canada stands on this. And it's sad because I'm Canadian. I've only been to court twice and both times they threw me in jail before I could calm down enough to really focus on the proceedings.
  3. HelloSweetie

    HelloSweetie New Member

    Sep 1, 2015
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    In this instance, I would go with the lawyers. If they say it's legal, then chances are it is. The law is super complex and often convoluted, and it's hard for laypeople to interpret it - which is why we have lawyers in the first place.
  4. GingerCoffee

    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

    Mar 3, 2013
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    Ralph's side of the island.
    I believe this is correct: "they are only allowed to do so at depositions with the prosecutor present."
  5. ChickenFreak

    ChickenFreak Contributor Contributor

    Mar 9, 2010
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    The movie My Cousin Vinny would certainly suggest that it's perfectly legal.

    Mona Lisa Vito: Don't you wanna know why Trotter gave you his files?
    Vinny Gambini: I told you why already.
    Mona Lisa Vito: He has to, by law, you're entitled. It's called disclosure, you dickhead! He has to show you everything, otherwise it could be a mistrial. He has to give you a list of all his witnesses, you can talk to all his witnesses, he's not allowed any surprises.
    Vinny Gambini: (silence)
    Mona Lisa Vito: They didn't teach you that in law school either?

    I Googled

    american criminal law defense "access to witnesses"

    and got some links that seem relevant.
  6. Steerpike

    Steerpike Felis amatus Contributor

    Jul 5, 2010
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    California, US
    Yes, they can talk to witnesses. Defense attorneys have an obligation to research a case just like a prosecutor does. That includes tracking down witnesses and talking to them, etc.

    EDIT: Ah, ninjae'd by the article.

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