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At What Point Does My Attorney Have Access To Evidence In A DUI Case?


There is evidence that can be written on documentation that is given to someone when they are arrested and released. Sometimes we can have pre-empts from breath machines. We never get the blood results quickly because they have to go to the lab to get tested. Sometimes there is information written on the citations that can help us. Typically, the police report, video records, audio records and other things of that nature are not going to be available in a DUI case until the first court appearance, which is shortly after that (depending on which county you are in). Sometimes we can get the police report from the DMV before the first court appearance, but they are pretty slow at getting us that information.

If the first court appearance is a month after the arrest, then it’s typically nothing serious in the police report. If there has been an accident, then the client can request an accident report from the arresting agency, but they are not going to give us a full police report. Once we get the initial discovery at the first court appearance, we sort through it and start asking for additional discovery and an informal discovery request. The informal discovery request would go to the prosecutor, the district attorney or to the office that’s prosecuting the case.

What Evidence Is The Attorney Looking For When It Comes To A DUI Case?

In most DUI cases, the alcohol level is the most important piece of evidence and that’s what the DA is going to look at. However, I approach a DUI case by looking at it from beginning to end. I want to look at the stop itself, and determine whether or not the officer had sufficient reason to pull the defendant over and initiate a DUI investigation. That’s critical evidence, and it often comes in the way of police reports, video footage, audio dispatch, 911 calls and other things of that nature. After that, we are looking at the report, the breath testing machines, the blood testing devices, the interaction, listening to video audio, reading the report of the actual blood draw and looking at the chain of custody. If we are lucky, sometimes we get an actual video of the blood draw. A number of contamination issues can come up with regard to the blood draw itself, which can help us win a case. So, we are getting records on the machines that were used to do the testing, doing calibration laws and gathering maintenance records in order to show that there may be an issue with the testing procedure or the devices used to do testing.

Does The Defendant Have To Plead Either Guilty Or Not Guilty Before The Discovery Is Released?

Typically, we can go to the first court appearance without having the client show up, unless it’s a felony. We will enter a plea of not guilty, but sometimes there may be a reason to delay that. There may be issues with the actual complaint, and we may do a demur. But typically, we enter a not guilty plea. It’s hard to get the discovery before going into court, but sometimes we can get it from the DMV before the actual court date. If we can, then we’ll already have a lot of what we need when we go in, and we’ll know what else we need to request once we do enter into court the not guilty plea.

If Some Evidence Is Missed In Discovery How Does It Affect The Case? What Can An Attorney Do At That Point?

In looking at the discovery for the case, the first thing we are looking at is whether or not the cop properly stopped, questioned, tested and arrested our client. We are looking to see if they did anything improperly or in violation of the law. If we do find something that they did improperly, then we are going to bring a suppression motion and try to get a judge to say that the cops messed up. In most cases, a suppression of the evidence makes it very difficult for the DA to move forward. So, that’s one of the things that we are looking for when we are looking for problems with discovery. Other things that we are looking for are issues with the machines used for testing blood or breath.

Sometimes an officer will claim that there was some type of driving that isn’t evident on the video. For example, they may say that the person was going over on the lines when they were actually only touching the lines. Those are issues that can come up in a motion in an attempt to have the case dismissed or the charges reduced. This doesn’t always work, but it can. There can also be issues with the blood sample or the machine on which it was processed. There may be some contamination issues that we can identify by looking at the results that come out of these testing procedures. This is something that we can discuss with the DA, or else use in a trial situation in an attempt to win the case or at least make things better for our clients.

What Should Someone Who Has Been Arrested For The First Time Know About Discovery In a DUI Case?

There is a lot of waiting in these cases. I give my clients my cell number, and oftentimes they will call me and ask what’s going on and whether or not I have any reports. The answer is usually no. We usually don’t get the reports until we go to the first court appearance, and the police will not give them to us again unless there is some type of an accident, in which case we could get the actual accident report. However, that would not be the full DUI report. Once we get the discovery, we dissect it, absorb it and define what else it says that might help us win or get a better result in the case.

Depending on which county you are in, the discovery process can be very slow and repeated requests are often made. Some DA offices are quick at responding, while others are very slow. You just need to be patient. If you do ever have any questions about what’s going on with your case or discovery issues, you should be able to contact your lawyer and have them get back to you fairly quickly. Discovery is needed in every case. There are the rare cases where sometimes we won’t be asking for discovery, but I don’t want to get into the details of that. Sometimes a quick resolution is needed, but typically we need to challenge everything and find out if there is any way to get a better result or win the case.

For more information on Discovery In a DUI Case, a free initial consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you are seeking by calling (415) 523-7878 today.

Aaron Bortel

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