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Understanding the Discovery Process in a Criminal Trial

Many of us love watching crime shows on television, and often think that the procedures depicted represent the true inner workings of the court system. The process of presenting evidence (often in a surprise manner), calling witnesses to the stand, and giving testimony are all very dramatized on our favorite shows.
Today we’re going to look at one section of a criminal trial called discovery; aptly titled, this part of the process allows for both sides to discover what evidence the other side has. However, it’s a little more complex than that, as we explain below.
Types of Evidence Used
The discovery process is primarily used to benefit the defendant by giving them insight into the evidence obtained by the prosecutors. This evidence can vary in terms of what it entails, but can include crime scene photos, police reports, DNA evidence, or witness testimony.
Any and all forms of evidence must be turned in to the defense, but it is considered to be raw, meaning that what will actually be used by the prosecutors is kept secret. The defendant doesn’t get any sort of clues as to what strategy will be used against them; they are only able to see the pieces of evidence involved in the case.
Timing Is Important
Many states have laws governing the time period in which all evidence must be disclosed by the prosecutors. The statues will vary, but typically there is an agreed upon time that both the prosecutor and defendant must abide by. This requirement eliminates the dramatic television aspect of surprise evidence and allows the defense team to plan their strategy accordingly.
Other Aspects to Consider
The discovery process in a criminal case is truly for the benefit of the defendant and allows them a fair chance to win. To achieve this, the discovery process often doesn’t work both ways, in that the prosecution doesn’t have access to the defendant’s evidence if it would be self-incriminating.
Additionally, going through discovery can sometimes show the defendant that their case won’t hold up as strongly as they thought and can provide them the option of a plea bargain before the trial even begins. It’s essentially a sneak peek at what’s to come and can sometimes change their decision on how to proceed.
If you have been charged with a criminal offense and need representation, contact The Complete Legal Defense Team of Greg McCollum today. We can help you through the discovery process, as well as the rest of the trial to get the fair treatment you deserve.

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