Although a DUI may seem like a straightforward offense, there can be mitigating circumstances and evidence that is overlooked, when arresting someone for a DUI. This evidence can make a difference in an individual’s case. Therefore, if you face DUI charges and want to know more about the Fredericksburg DUI discovery process, consult a capable DUI attorney who can walk you through the legal process and assist you in building a defense.
The Fredericksburg DUI discovery process is governed by a specific rule of the Supreme Court of Virginia. The rules of the Supreme Court of Virginia provide a scant level of discovery as compared to many neighboring states and, certainly, many states throughout the country. The cases that are heard in the general district court, are ruled in the Supreme Court and says that, at a minimum, the Commonwealth is only required to provide statements of the accused, the accused criminal record, and anything that may be deemed exculpatory.
Exculpatory refers to the standard laid out by the U.S. Supreme Court. Many individuals are shocked to know that according to current Virginia law, a defense attorney is not entitled to things like police reports, incident reports, or even a video if it doesn’t provide exculpatory information. Videos are kind of a separate matter because videos are going to have something that’s exculpatory even if the vast majority of the video is inculpatory. It is a shocking revelation to many to know that Virginia attorneys are not required or are not entitled to basic evidence for their client.
However, discovery is expanded by many local Commonwealth Attorney’s offices. As soon as the case has a case number and it is opened by the Commonwealth Attorney’s office, the discovery process can begin. How the discovery process happens is issued by the local office as they have their own local practices. Typically, a defense attorney wants to make a request for discovery as soon as possible.
During the Fredericksburg DUI discovery process, the defense attorney seeks discovery from the Fredericksburg Commonwealth Attorney’s office. The Commonwealth attorney’s office then asks the local law enforcement agency to provide them with the discovery of material and that’s given to the defense attorney. The request goes up the line and then it goes back down.
It is important to know that discovery is not as wide and broad and they perceive it to be. For example, the attorney is not legally entitled to a copy of the police report or the incident report, and the Commonwealth does not have to provide it. That is probably the most common misconception about discovery. It is also an important tool but it is not the only tool that attorneys have in preparing a defense.
Things that may be discovered may include police reports, statements of the accused, statements of other witnesses, the officer’s thoughts and impressions of the case, results of field sobriety tests or certifications regarding their pulmonary breath test as well as video evidence. They could be dash cam video or body camera video. Discovery materials may also include a copy of the statements of analysis, if a breath or blood test was done, as well as witness statements.
Witness statements may be particularly helpful in DUI cases that involve accidents or prior behaviors that were not initially noticed by the officer, some of the taken statements to count and to help the Commonwealth to prove their case and it could help the defense attorney to prepare as to who the potential witnesses are against him or her.
A subpoena is an important tool that both the Commonwealth and defense attorneys have at their disposal. A subpoena is there to ensure that witnesses appear to provide testimony. It can also be used to gather important evidentiary tools that might not be otherwise available voluntarily.
Subpoenas are very commonly used in DUI cases and in those common scenarios, they would be to ensure that a witness goes to court. Subpoenas are a legal process which means if someone is literally served with a warrant and then fails to go to court, they could be issued either a show cost or they have them go to court and explain under possible criminal penalty, why they failed to appear.
While a DUI is a serious offense, the weight of a DUI conviction should not upend your life. Be proactive and contact a local DUI attorney who can work hard to defend you. A qualified DUI lawyer will be familiar with the Fredericksburg DUI discovery process and will know what evidence is relevant to you and your case. More importantly, an adept attorney can effectively use information found through discovery to build a solid case.
Patrick Woolley Attorney At Law