What do you know about the discovery process?

The American Bar Association breaks down how parties share information they wish to use during the trial. Learn how discovery works to better prepare yourself and your case.

Understanding discovery

During the discovery process, both sides share details about the evidence and witnesses they want to use to build their case. Discovery’s aim is to prevent one side from feeling blindsided by a surprise witness or evidence, which robs the party of having adequate time to prepare a response.

Breaking down depositions

A deposition, a method of discovery, represents a statement made under oath and outside of court by parties involved in a legal matter. Forms depositions take include recordings or written transcripts, and either side may use them to get ready for a trial or during the trial itself. A majority of states allow the defendant and prosecutor access to each other’s depositions, and either party has the right to sit in on oral depositions. If a vital witness cannot attend the trial, deposition allows the person to record a statement to present to the court.

Using alternate discovery methods

Other than depositions, parties may use other methods of discovery. The other side may receive a request to consent to a physical examination, or a document may require in-depth scrutiny to determine its authenticity. The court may issue a subpoena that legally requires the other party to hand over documents or media.

You do not have to become a legal professional to prepare for your case. Understanding basic legal procedures may help you understand the process and ease your fears.