A criminal case is a court proceeding
where a defendant, or someone accused of a crime, is tried for by the government to determine guilty or innocence. To help in proving innocence, a defendant can use police personnel files to prove an affirmative defense or discredit witnesses.

Why Use Police Personnel Files in a Criminal Case?

Police personnel files are used to impeach the police officer’s testimony. A judge or jury presumes a police officer is telling the truth even when defense eye witnesses counter his testimony. Using the police personnel files will also show:

  • Any negative or behavioral problems like using excessive force or lying
  • Any public complaints filed against the officer
  • Any altercations where the police officer was involved 

How Do I Make a Request for Police Personnel Files?

Requesting police personnel files depends on the particular jurisdiction. Each jurisdiction has different procedure that a person must complete to obtain the files.

Will I Automatically Receive the Requested Files?

No. In most cases, the prosecution will review the police personnel files to determine if:

  • They are relevant to the case
  • Helpful to the defense

The prosecution does not have to turn over all files. Rather, they are only required to hand over information that is actually relevant to the case.

Is There a Specific Time to Request Police Personnel Files?

Yes. The discovery stage of a criminal trial is the time to request police personnel files. During the discovery process, the defense can obtain information that is relevant to the case. This information includes evidence held by the prosecutor, such as:

  • Oral statements
  • Police personnel files
  • Test results
  • Expert witness summary
  • Recorded and written evidence
  • Eyewitness testimony

Should I Talk to an Attorney about My Criminal Case?

If you are being charged with a crime, contact a criminal attorney. They can help you obtain evidence such as police personnel files and assist you in determining the best way to use the evidence in your criminal case.