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Understanding the Discovery Process


Facing criminal charges can be a frightening prospect. It can be difficult to know what to expect from the criminal justice system and to understand what your rights are during that process. The thought of potentially having to go to trial and face consequences like jail time or fines can be very daunting.

It is important to remember that you have rights under the law and that a reputable and experienced criminal defense attorney can help ensure that these rights are protected during every step of the process. If you have been charged with a crime in Milwaukee, you can trust our team at the Law Offices of Christopher J. Cherella to help guide and defend you.

What Happens During the Discovery Process?

One of the tools that a knowledgeable criminal defense attorney will use to defend your rights is the pre-trial discovery process when the defense can file a “Demand for Discovery and Inspection” requesting that the prosecution share its evidence with the defense. This can include:

  • Witness lists
  • Recorded statements from witnesses
  • Police reports
  • Forensic evidence – evidence acquired through scientific means, including DNA
  • Physical evidence – evidence that is tangible, such as objects

In other words, the prosecution must hand over any and all of its evidence during the discovery process. Prosecutors are obliged to produce this evidence within a reasonable span of time so the defense has adequate time to review it and plan a defense in light of this evidence.

After the evidence is handed over, the defense attorney can then challenge the inclusion of specific pieces of evidence, if necessary. For example, they might challenge any documents or statements that were obtained improperly or evidence that was seized during a search undertaken without probable cause.

The Brady Rule

Furthermore, the prosecution is legally obliged to hand over any and all exculpatory evidence, which is evidence that might excuse, justify, or absolve the alleged guilt of the defendant. That is, the prosecution must give the defense access to any evidence that might help the defendant’s case and could contribute to proving their innocence.

This is referred to as the Brady Rule after the 1963 US Supreme Court case Brady v. Maryland, in which the prosecution withheld another individual’s murder confession from the defense. A seasoned attorney may file a Brady motion if they suspect that the prosecution has withheld exculpatory evidence. This motion can be filed at any point during the trial. If such a motion is filed, a separate hearing will be held where the judge will decide if the Brady rule applies.

How the Law Offices of Christopher J. Cherella Can Help

If you are accused of a crime, you need an experienced lawyer on your side who will be able to carefully examine the evidence in your case and develop an effective strategy to defend you. As a former prosecutor, Attorney Cherella knows how the prosecution builds its cases, and he can bring that invaluable insight to your defense.

At the Law Offices of Christopher J. Cherella, we are dedicated to ensuring that our clients are treated fairly every step of the way. We care that our client’s rights are protected.

Contact us today online or reach out to us at (414) 882-8382 to schedule a consultation.