Do you know what discovery means in the criminal justice system? It is the pretrial disclosure of evidence and documents relevant to a specific case. Discovery procedures compel each side to share information about the facts of the alleged crime or event.
Most discovery occurs before a criminal trial, but the prosecutor must also disclose new evidence or information as it arises during a trial. Those facing criminal charges can use the process of discovery to their advantage.
How can it help your case?
When you know what kind of evidence a prosecutor possesses, your defense advocate can prepare to counter such evidence. For example, your counsel might see a potential defect or flaw in the evidence and use it to improve your situation.
Forms of discovery
A request for discovery yields documented records specific to your case. Other examples include the following.
- Police department and police car audio and video recordings
- Copies of statements the defendant gave the police and the prosecutor
- Recorded statements made by the defendant
- Forensic evidence (blood and chemical test results, etc.)
Many don’t realize that the prosecutor must also share evidence that might indicate that a defendant is innocent. It is called exculpatory evidence, and when it exists, it can benefit criminal defendants enormously.
Discovery also includes witnesses
In North Carolina, prosecutors must provide a list of their witnesses. Access to witnesses gives your advocate an opportunity to discredit unfavorable witness testimony. The defense can speak directly with witnesses as long as they consent to the interview.
Discovery can benefit many types of criminal cases, including DUIs, violent crimes and even homicide. We recommend learning more about your criminal defense options.