If you’re charged with a DUI, you have a right to present a defense. Putting up the best possible defense means building your case. Building your case means using a process called discovery to gather information about your case. Discovery is a formal process that allows a person who is accused of committing a crime to obtain the evidence that’s relevant to the case.
Discovery in general
The justice system wants to ensure that accused individuals receive a fair trial. That means making sure the defendant knows what evidence exists in the case so that they can address it. The discovery process is the formal rules that are in place to ensure that the defendant has access to the evidence that exists in the case.
How to get discovery in your case
To receive discovery in your case, you must demand it. In most cases, your attorney files a discovery demand when they file their appearance. They ask for a copy of the police report, copies of witness statements and other evidence that exists in the case.
The state’s attorney should produce this evidence quickly. In some cases, your attorney may need to make a special request in order to ask for dash cam or body cam videos that might exist in the case. They might ask for special production of breath testing verification logs, copies of chemical testing protocols and even copies of 911 calls. In most cases, law enforcement produces these items within a reasonable period of time when a defense attorney asks for the information.
Other ways to build your case
If the state doesn’t give you the information that exists in your case, there are things that you can do to gather the information. You can bring a motion to the court to make the court aware of the disagreements regarding discovery in your case. The result may be that the state must produce the evidence you request or dismiss the case against you. You may also use the Freedom of Information Act in order to make requests for records and information from a government agency.
Discovery is a starting point
With the information that you gather in the discovery process, you can build your case and evaluate the case against you. Discovery is an important process for every defendant. However, it’s only one part of building your case.
Once you receive the discovery, you should work with your attorney to evaluate how to continue to build the evidence in your case. You may need to follow up with witnesses in order to ask additional questions. In cases where the police perform a blood test, you may want to seek an independent chemical test. You may want to work with an expert witness in order to help the jury interpret the information.
Discovery is an important piece in building the defense of your DUI case. However, it’s important to remember that it’s only one part of your defense. Your attorney should help you take the evidence that you uncover and use it to determine how to present your best defense.
The Brady Rule
Law enforcement has a duty to disclose evidence that’s favorable to your case. Evidence that tends to show your innocence is called exculpatory evidence. The state’s attorney should disclose this evidence without your having to ask in formal discovery proceedings.
Exculpatory evidence might exist in the form of a witness statement. On the other hand, exculpatory evidence might be evidence that sheds doubt on the credibility of a witness. It may be a video that shows your driving or your behavior during the traffic stop. Exculpatory evidence might be a test result. Law enforcement may have performed multiple tests in your case, and they should disclose all of the test results even if not all of them are favorable to their case.
The state’s duty to disclose evidence favorable to the defendant is called the Brady Rule. The name comes from the Supreme Court case Brady v. Maryland. If a defendant can’t get a fair trial because the state failed to disclose evidence, the result may be that the court suppresses the evidence against you. If the state can’t present the evidence in court, they may have no choice but to dismiss the case against you.
Gathering exculpatory evidence is a critical part of the discovery process. Even though the state should produce this information voluntarily, you can’t always count on them to do the right thing. It’s important to evaluate the evidence to see if there’s anything the state may be withholding. If the police have the evidence, it’s presumed that the state’s attorney knows about the evidence or should know about it. The state can’t claim ignorance if law enforcement has the information that may work in your favor. Making the state accountable for fair discovery can help ensure that you have a fair chance to develop and present a defense in your case.