What does Discovery mean?
Discovery is the process by which each side "discovers" facts from the other side or from third parties. Discovery can last for several months and is used to uncover relevant facts of the criminal case and outline the strengths and weaknesses of both the defense and the prosecution.
Discovery is considered a crucial procedural safeguard to protect defendants against wrongful imprisonment by increasing disclosures prior to trial and allowing both the defense and the prosecution to prepare their case. Legal experts argue that if discovery is not done properly it can threaten the defendant's right to due process, but if it is done properly it can help challenge evidence and potentially eliminate evidence which is misleading. There are five steps in the discovery process: disclosure, interrogatories, admissions of facts, request for production and depositions. During discovery the courts will allow the request of information which is reasonably calculated to lead to the discovery of admissible evidence. The trial date is generally not set until both sides of the case have completed discovery.