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Understanding Trial Discovery

After the arraignment, both the prosecution and defense enter into a "discovery" process. The primary purpose of this process is to permit both sides of the case to take the time necessary to learn all the facts and prepare the arguments based on these facts.

Discovery must be reciprocal in order to be constitutional, which means that the prosecution must provide the defense with evidence they intend to use. The prosecution cannot hide evidence and then surprise the defense at trial. This applies to the defense as well. We must provide the prosecution with evidence which we plan to present at trial.

Typical discovery activities include:

  • Police reports
  • Medical records
  • Probation reports
  • Photographs
  • Diagrams
  • Recordings of witness statements
  • Viewing of physical evidence
  • Expert analysis (such as DNA reports or criminology)
  • Private investigative services

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