What is Discovery?
There is a lot of work to be done before a prosecutor starts a trial. The prosecutor must become familiar with the crime’s facts, speak with witnesses, examine the evidence, predict potential obstacles during the trial, and devise a trial strategy. The prosecutor may even rehearse some of the statements that will be made at the trial.
In the meantime, the defense lawyer is preparing in the same manner.
Talking to witnesses who may be summoned to testify in court is one of the first steps in preparing for a trial. A witness is someone who witnessed or heard the incident, or who may know critical details about the crime or the defendant. Both the defense and the prosecutor have the ability to call witnesses to testify or provide information about the case. The word “testimony” refers to what a witness says in court. On the witness stand in court, the witness is called to sit near the judge. Witnesses must take an oath to agree or affirm that they will tell the truth in order to testify.
Witnesses are divided into three categories:
- The most common form of witness is a lay witness, who observes events and explains what they saw.
- An expert witness is a specialist, or someone who has received training in a particular field. They solely testify about their area of expertise.
- Someone who knew the victim, the defendant, or other people engaged in the case is referred to as a character witness. Character witnesses aren’t normally present when a crime occurs, but they can be extremely useful in a case since they know the defendant’s or victim’s personality, or what kind of person they were before the crime. Character witnesses include neighbors, friends, family, and clergy.
To avoid surprises during the trial and to choose which witnesses to ask to testify, the prosecutor speaks with each witness to learn what they might say. These discussions will aid the prosecutor in determining who should be called as a witness in court. Reading every report made regarding the case is also a crucial aspect of trial preparation. The prosecutor determines the facts of the case based on information in the reports and information from witnesses.
Prosecutors must also disclose copies of any materials or evidence that they intend to utilize at trial to the defendant. This is known as discovery, and it lasts from the start of the case until the end of the trial. A prosecutor has a continual obligation to deliver documents and other information to the defendant that may be relevant to the case. If the prosecutor fails to do so, the court may impose penalties or punishments on the prosecutor. Furthermore, the prosecutor is compelled to offer exculpatory evidence to the defense, which is evidence that may harm the prosecutor’s case. This evidence might be used to prove the defendant’s innocence. If the prosecution fails to deliver it to the defense, a new trial may be necessary.
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