|A defendant is entitled to conduct discovery prior to his criminal trial. There are numerous alternative methods in which the defendant may conduct discovery in order to obtain information prior to his trial.
The defendant or his attorney should analyze the indictment. The indictment is an accusatory instrument. The indictment must identify the offense that the defendant is charged with and apprise the defendant of what he must be prepared to meet. In accordance with the Sixth Amendment to the United States Constitution, the defendant is required to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation against him.
Analyze the Crime Scene
The defendant or his attorney should thoroughly analyze the crime scene involved in his case, if one exists. By viewing the crime scene, the attorney may be able to gain a clear understanding of the events, which would assist him during cross-examination or during the general preparation of the case for trial. Pictures, measurements, and video may be taken of the crime scene to assist in the defendant's preparation.
The defendant or his attorney should interview any and all potential witnesses involved in the case. There is often a lot of information that may be obtained from witness interviews. The interviews should be focused. The interviews may either be voluntary or the defendant may obtain a subpoena requiring the witness to be deposed. The witness interviews should take place as soon as feasibly possible because individuals tend to forget specific details after a period of time.
Disclosure by the Prosecution
The prosecution may on its own volition voluntarily disclose information to the defendant. Prosecutors will often disclose information to expedite the court proceedings and hopefully avoid a lot of discovery motions. The prosecution may disclose information, which the defendant would be legally entitled to receive under the discovery law prior to trial.
The defendant or his attorney may also be able to obtain additional information during the preliminary examination, pretrial conferences, or during a pretrial hearing. Often times additional information is disclosed during any of the above-mentioned pretrial procedures.
The defendant or his attorney may also hire a private investigator to investigate the facts and circumstances surrounding the offense that the defendant was charged with. Private investigators are costly and often times unnecessary depending upon the complexity of the case.
Copyright 2013 LexisNexis, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc.