If you have been charged with a crime, it is common for a process called ‘discovery’ to follow. During this time, your lawyer will probably collect important evidence from the prosecution for your defense.
You may be wondering what discovery is and how it will affect your case. Learning some facts about discovery and a defense lawyer’s role in this stage could help you ask the right questions when hiring a Tampa criminal law attorney.
Did you know that after your arrest, you are entitled to have access to evidence that would be in your favor and significant or ‘material’ in pointing to a criminal conviction? Otherwise, the prosecution could be violating an important rule of evidence, known as a Brady Violation.
Why Is Discovery Part of a Criminal Case?
In preparation for a trial, both the prosecution (The State of Florida) and the defense will prepare evidence to present for either side. The attorney representing the State will usually have what is called the ‘burden of proof’.
Having this burden means that the State must present evidence to the jury to prove that a defendant is guilty–beyond any reasonable doubt. On the other hand, the defense does not technically have to prove anything.
However, a smart defense attorney may still go through the process of collecting evidence in discovery and presenting it at your trial to help the jury see that there is reasonable doubt of guilt. This is how key pieces of evidence from a defense team can change the course of a trial and, hopefully, avoid conviction for you.
Does Discovery Help or Hurt My Defense?
To prevent surprises at trial and keep fairness involved, the defense and prosecution will usually trade relevant information and evidence during discovery. Documents that are often exchanged in discovery could include:
- public records
- police reports
- lab results
- experimental or scientific data
- deposition testimony from witnesses, and
- witness lists
With the help of an attorney, you could discuss how these pieces of evidence like the ones above could impact your case. That may help you decide whether you want to go through with a trial or seek a plea bargain or another option that may be available.
Of course, not everything is exchanged during discovery. Your attorney’s ‘work product,’ which is often based on the evidence, may be kept private from the prosecution, which can be a help to you.
If you have been arrested or accused of a crime and need help, we are here for you. Your online form can be submitted 24/7 or you can call our office right away on Azeele Street in Tampa at (813) 229-5353 to talk about your case.
Determining whether discovery will help or hurt your case can really depend on a lot of factors and facts that may be unique to your case. This is why hiring an attorney can be a huge benefit to your future–they can evaluate your particular situation and then explain your possible case outcomes and legal options.