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Why the right of discovery is valuable for criminal defendants

On Behalf of | Jan 30, 2024 | Criminal Defense

Those arrested on allegations of criminal conduct in Massachusetts often feel hopeless. The state may seem to have a strong case against them, and they might face what seem like unnecessarily extreme charges. Prosecutors often bring the harshest charges they can justify or pursue multiple charges for a single incident. The goal of this tactic is to push someone into pleading guilty because they worry about the consequences of a conviction.

Before someone decides to enter a guilty plea and place themselves at the mercy of the courts, they may first want to make use of their right of discovery. They could have a better chance than they realize of defending against their charges.

What is the right of discovery?

State prosecutors have an obligation to share their evidence with defendants before the case goes to trial. That right can make all the difference for someone trying to prove their innocence. Defendants have an opportunity to review the state’s evidence with their lawyers before presenting their case in court.

They can use the right of discovery to look for ways to counter or challenge the most compelling evidence that the state has gathered. Sometimes, individuals working with an attorney could raise questions about how police gathered that evidence.

If there is proof that the police violated someone’s civil rights by conducting an illegal search, for example, it may be possible to exclude certain evidence from a criminal trial. In some cases, invoking the exclusionary rule might lead to the dismissal of charges because the state no longer has sufficient evidence to secure a conviction.

Defendants can also use a strategy where they raise questions about how the state analyzed the evidence. Bringing in expert witnesses can raise questions about the accuracy of the state’s reports regarding forensic or financial evidence. If the state’s case largely relies on witnesses, obtaining a list of prospective witnesses could help people raise questions about the credibility of individuals providing key testimony on behalf of the state.

Those who once believed that the state had a strong case against them might come to realize that they have a very good chance of successfully defending against their pending charges. Learning about one’s rights and using them can be crucial for those pursuing a favorable outcome when facing criminal charges in Massachusetts.

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