NYC Defendants Use “VDFs” To Talk About Their Cases


Suspects often confess immediately after their arrests, says the New York Times. In New York City, their vehicle called a V.D.F.–the People's Voluntary Disclosure Form. “It's kind of like the literature of the criminal defendant,” said Gerald Shargel, a criminal defense lawyer. “The information contained on the V.D.F. is much more rich and colorful than anything the defense lawyer provides.” Defense attorneys often try to suppress V.D.F.'s so they cannot be used in court.

The Voluntary Disclosure Form is a rough, preliminary summary of the evidence that the prosecution is required to give to the defense. There is space for prosecutors to type out information like the date, place, and time of the “occurrence.” For many people, the urge to explain, if not to confess, is urgent. Stacey Richman, a criminal defense lawyer, advises any accused who may feel the urge to chat: “You have a right to remain silent. Exercise that right.” The Times provides several examples of suspects who talked nevertheless.


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