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Forensic DNA Education for Law Enforcement Decisionmakers

The Prosecution Phase - Pre-Trial

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Investigation Through Arrest Phases

The Prosecution Phase - Pre-Trial

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National Institute of Justice (NIJ) (see reuse policy).

The pre-trial phase consists of compliance with discovery obligations, witness preparation and pre-trial motion practices. Motions to quash arrest records and suppress evidence are typical during this phase. During pre-trial, the prosecutor will formulate a strategy for prosecuting the case, begin to assess possible defenses and strategize methods to negate those defenses.

Prosecutors must understand the time and resource limitations of investigative and laboratory personnel. Conversely, investigative and laboratory personnel should be receptive to the prosecutor's needs and understand the priorities apparent during the prosecution phase.

The burden of proving a case beyond a reasonable doubt is placed solely on the prosecutor. Investigative work does not stop with the arrest of a suspect. As stated earlier, the investigation typically continues throughout the criminal justice process.

A case may plea on the eve of trial with investigators and laboratory personnel still engaged. Prosecutors must remember that these parties have an interest in any outcome from the prosecution, as it may directly affect their workloads or case priorities. Communication with investigators and the laboratory should continue through the end of the trial. Often, personnel from both parties have invested time and effort on the case, and alerting these individuals of the outcome avoids wasting valuable resources, builds trust between the parties and is generally good for morale.

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