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What happens during the process of discovery?

Anyone who is facing criminal charges also faces the possibility of going to trial. But the criminal trial process consists of many steps and protocols that must be precisely followed before any final decision about the case is rendered. One of the most important steps in this process is the act of discovery. But what is discovery and why is it extremely important in a criminal trial?

Discovery literally means finding out what both the the prosecution and the criminal defense teams intend to present during a trial in order to make their case. It is the process whereby both sides share with each other what information they have collected and intend to use during the trial. By using discovery, both sides can be fully prepared for the trial. Discovery is important because it prevents one side from using evidence that the other side may not know about and possibly be unprepared to answer or challenge.

One of the most important components of discovery is the use of depositions. A deposition is basically a statement taken under oath from someone who is somehow involved in the criminal case. A deposition can be taken from a law enforcement officer, a witness, a member of the defendant's family or someone else who has knows something about the case. A deposition can be taken as either an oral or video statement. Depositions must be shared between the prosecution and the criminal defense.

Anyone who is deposed by one side of the case must also be questioned by the other side. However, any Maryland resident who is facing criminal charges may want to speak with a criminal defense attorney in order to learn about additional methods of discovery.

Source: American, "Discovery", Accessed September 4, 2016

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