Discovery refers to the process through which parties obtain evidence from the other party before the trial begins. The Fredericksburg DUI discovery process can yield helpful information that could be instrumental in building your DUI case. If you want to know more about discovery in DUI cases, speak with a qualified DUI attorney that could answer your questions and guide you through the process.
In Virginia, discovery is a very limited process. Most of what an individual is entitled to receive at the General District Court level are their own statements they have made. That may be a recording of their statement or anything they said to the law enforcement officer. The Commonwealth of Virginia is also required to turn over an individual’s criminal record if it plans to use that at any stage of the court proceeding. That is all a person is entitled to receive in General District Court.
As a matter of general practice, most Commonwealth attorneys will provide quite a bit of additional information, especially in DUI cases. That could include the officer’s field notes of sobriety tests and any video evidence of field sobriety tests, such as dash cams from the police cruisers and body-worn cameras that police officers have. In many DUI cases, the Commonwealth provides additional discovery that they are not required by law to provide.
Although the Commonwealth is not required to disclose most information, in most DUI cases the defense attorney will have access to certain discoverable materials, such as the officer’s field notes and video evidence from police cruisers and body-worn cameras. That also could include breath-test evidence, breathalyzer calibrations, blood test samples, lab records, and dash cam footage.
Defense attorneys can seek discovery from several sources, including the government, witnesses, and mechanics. The most important discovery comes from the client themselves because in many cases the client will have the best idea of what actually occurred before, during, and after their arrest. The attorney also could seek discovery from the prosecutor and try to speak with the police officer before court to learn as much as possible about the case. The attorney may want to know what video evidence is available if there were any independent witnesses, perhaps someone else who was riding in the car or someone who saw an accident if one occurred.
Once a discovery order is signed in court it is generally forwarded to law enforcement, which then will make videos available to defense attorneys. They also will provide written discovery to the prosecutor’s office, who then turns that information over to the defense attorney.
A request for discovery is submitted to both the court and directly to the government. In a DUI case, discovery is requested from the Commonwealth’s attorney, who will request it from the court, which then will grant it. The role of the government in conducting the Fredericksburg DUI discovery process involves the government attorney being responsible for ensuring that the defense attorney is provided discovery properly and in a timely manner.
As defined by law, a subpoena is a demand from the court to either appear in court or to appear in court with certain evidence for a criminal or civil case. A subpoena may be issued in a DUI case if an individual wants to require someone to appear as a witness. The Constitution grants someone the right to have the court issue a subpoena. In a case in which a witness is required for court, it is a good idea to subpoena the witnesses to appear in court, giving the demand the authority of the government.
During the Fredericksburg DUI discovery process, it may be necessary to subpoena witnesses to act on behalf of the defendant just as it may be necessary for the Commonwealth’s attorney to subpoena their witnesses. If the Commonwealth’s attorney does not subpoena a defendant’s witness, the government’s case may not be able to go forward and would have to be dismissed.
The most important thing for people to understand about the Fredericksburg DUI discovery process is that they only have a right to receive the statement they made and their own criminal record. They do not have a right to refute any other information, including statements other people may have made or videos not about their statements. It is up to the government attorney to provide anything more than that to the defense attorney in DUI cases.
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