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Understanding Discovery In Criminal Cases

 As a defendant in a criminal case, you may hire Van Nuys criminal lawyer to help you go through the discovery process.

 The discovery process is where the defendant in a criminal case seeks information regarding their case. The prosecutor can obtain information about the defendant as well. Meaning, both sides may engage in discovery. Discovery helps both parties to know what to expect in trial and what evidence will be provided. While the discovery process is not intended to help the defendant at trial per se, the information obtained may greatly help to settle the criminal case. To be precise, the advance disclosure helps to promote a fair trial outcome and hence the case settlement.


What Does The Discovery Evidence Include?

 As a defendant in a criminal case, you may hire Van Nuys criminal lawyer to help you go through the discovery process. When the prosecutor is seeking information from the defendant, this is not a violation of the Fifth Amendment’s right. One may argue that their right to silence has been violated or they have been denied self-incrimination privilege. This is not so. The kind of information you are required to give depends on the jurisdiction. In California, the defendant is required to provide the below information to the prosecutors:

  • Information about witnesses and the statements the witnesses plan to give in court
  • Real evidence that will be provided such as photographs of relevant place or objects
  • Expert reports

Likewise, the defendant may find out about the prosecution by obtaining the below information:

  • Police reports: The defendant may be able to see the arresting officers' copies as well as any information about prosecution witnesses. It's more likely for a prosecutor to trust police reports than any other information from witnesses.
  • Results of tests conducted such as drug or alcohol tests

The above is a sure way to bring fairness during the trial, which may foster a quick settlement. Besides, the government saves on their judicial time and resources too. Besides, if the defendant pleads guilty, there is no need to try the case. It’s worth noting that discovery unfolds gradually. Meaning, the prosecutor will not wake in the eve of trial and provide the information needed. Similarly, the defendant may get information regarding witnesses at the initial appearance and fail to get the drug test results until some few days before trial.


Benefits Of Discovery Process

There are many benefits associated with collecting and exchanging information about the case. Some of them include:

  • The defendant will have sufficient knowledge and hence be able to make informed decisions with the help of his/her attorney.
  • The exchange of information reduces any complication or interruptions that may erupt during the trial and, hence avoids repetitious trials.
  • Helps to minimize paperwork and also lessen the number of separate hearings
  • Ease the burden on defendants or witnesses as they will prevent repetitive assertions of issues

As a defendant, you are innocent until proved guilty by the court of law. The prosecution alone will bear the burden of proof.  For a defendant to be proven beyond reasonable guilt there must be evidence. If the defense is given an insufficient opportunity to cast doubt on the prosecution case, the presumption of innocence may be significantly damaged. It only through adequate discovery can the defendant has the chance to challenge the evidence given to ensure a fair hearing in the court of law. Remember that the discovery will either be formal or informal. For the informal discovery, it will help you decide whether you need to file your case. It’s the stage where you gather the information as you conduct interviews with witnesses or know what’s included in the police records. Equally, for the formal discovery, you may use the information obtained even after you have filed your case. There are so many tools you can use on this. They include:

  • Subpoenas: This is a written order requesting the other party to produce evidence such as records, books or any other document needed for inspection.
  • Depositions: This may be a written transcript or a video recording used in the preparation of trial or at trial. This helps one to know what the witnesses will say.
  • Interrogations: These may be written questions by one party requesting the other to provide answers under oath that may be used in the trial.

According to the California courts, there’re many formal discovery tools; the above are just a few of them. To understand the process of discovery better, it would be better to consider hiring a criminal lawyer. Your lawyer may object to the questions, answers provided or raise concerns about the discovery issues.


You Need A Criminal Lawyer

 The discovery process is very complicated and time-consuming. That’s why it’s vital to have a criminal lawyer help you in your discovery process. Through your lawyer, you will be able to find out:

  • How good your case is
  • How good the other side case is
  • Have all the relevant facts you need to present your case

The above requires someone knowledgeable about discovery rules and how to use legal strategies in each case.



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