What is Discovery?
Discovery is a legal term that refers to the process of exchanging information, legal documents, and evidence between the parties in a lawsuit. Discovery is a compulsory process, meaning that the parties in the lawsuit must comply with requests for information or face court-ordered sanctions.
The federal rules of criminal procedure require the government to make available any written or verbal statements it intends to you against you at trial, as well as any evidence it has gathered in preparation for its case or that you could use to prepare your defense.
About the Federal Discovery Process
Discovery happens at the pre-trial stage of a case. The federal discovery process in a criminal case includes:
- An interview conducted by court personnel
- Federal prosecutors gather evidence and prepare their case against you
- Prosecutors submit the case to a grand jury to determine whether or not your case should go to trial based on the evidence
In a sense, the federal discovery process also includes the period of time in which the police or federal agents conducted an investigation — could be weeks or months or longer — in which they gathered evidence sufficient to support an indictment and arrest.
After indictment and arrest, prosecutors and defense counsel should exchange or should already have exchanged (depending on when defense counsel was hired) all relevant information about the case.
In a perfect world, defense counsel would have all the evidence — including exculpatory evidence that suggests you are innocent — during the pre-trial discovery phase.
Expert Tip: It is in the interest of prosecutors to obtain convictions. Sometimes information will be withheld that should be provided to the defendant. This is one reason why it is very important to retain the services of a criminal defense lawyer as early as possible. The Supreme Court has made it very clear that withholding evidence violates due process “where the evidence is material either to guilt or punishment.” Brady v. Maryland, 373 U.S. 83 (1963); see also Giglio v. United States, 405 U.S. 150 (1972). An experienced defense attorney will fight to protect your constitutional right to have full and timely discovery.
Contact Roberts Law Group, PLLC in North Carolina
Based in Raleigh, Patrick Roberts is a federal defense attorney who represents individuals charged with federal offenses throughout the U.S. Learn more about Patrick Roberts here. Call 877-880-5753 or use our online form to request a consultation.
State v. B.S.: Not Guilty Verdict in First Degree Murder Case.
In this case, our client was charged with First Degree Murder in connection with a “drive by” shooting that occurred in Charlotte, NC. The State’s evidence included GPS ankle monitoring data linking our client was at the scene of the crime and evidence that our client confessed to an inmate while in jail. Nonetheless, we convinced a jury to unanimously find our client Not Guilty. He was released from jail the same day.
State v. S.G.: First Degree Murder Charge Dismissed.
Our client was charged with First Degree for the shooting death related to an alleged breaking and entering. The State’s evidence included a co-defendant alleging that our client was the shooter. After conducting a thorough investigation with the use of a private investigator, we persuaded the State to dismiss entirely the case against our client.
State v. B.D.: First Degree Murder Charged Dismissed.
After conducting an investigation and communicating with prosecutor about the facts and circumstances indicating that our client acted in self-defense, the case was dismissed and deemed a justifiable homicide.
State v. I.R.: Reduction from First Degree Murder to Involuntary Manslaughter and Concealment of Death.
Our client was charged with the First Degree Murder of a young lady by drug overdose. After investigating the decedent’s background and hiring a preeminent expert toxicologist to fight the State’s theory of death, we were able to negotiate this case down from Life in prison to 5 years in prison, with credit for time served.
State v. J.G.:
Our client was charged with First Degree Murder related to a “drug deal gone bad.” After engaging the services of a private investigator and noting issues with the State’s case, we were able to negotiate a plea for our client that avoided a Life sentence and required him to serve only 12 years.