In Texas, discovery is a crucial phase of a criminal trial. It’s the period during which the two sides share information and evidence so that nothing throughout the course of the trial itself is a shock to the other side.
How written discovery works
Discovery starts with interrogatories, or the documentation of events. This will involve questions designed to get a complete picture of the story. During document production, both sides get the chance to examine all relevant documents, like medical reports, police reports, texts and any other written or electronic documents that could be relevant to the case. Discovery also involves depositions. These are question and answer sessions where the law requires the person being questioned tell the truth under oath.
The process exists so that neither side can bring out surprise evidence during the trial. It’s almost impossible to hide or conceal any relevant fact or item during discovery. In criminal defense, the two sides develop their own strategy and plan how to respond to each other before the trial begins. It also allows both sides to gauge the strength of each other’s evidence and consider what a plea deal might look like. Discovery can take considerable time in cases where there’s substantial evidence to review and exchange.
Discovery is essential for transparency in criminal cases and creates an opportunity for the prosecution and defense to see the whole set of evidence pertaining to the case. It’s vital that everyone involved in the process is honest and provides completely factual information, as it’s highly likely the incorrect information will come to light at some point and could put the case in jeopardy.