DUI is taken extremely seriously in Virginia. It is important for a person charged with DUI to consult with a DUI representation lawyer in Virginia to begin preparing a defense.
There are many constitutional issues that a defense attorney can consider.The first thing a criminal defense attorney will look at is whether there are any defenses to the initial traffic stop, and then if there are any defenses related to whether there is probable cause for the arrest itself. Those are the constitutional defenses that the attorney will consider. There are other defenses that need to be explored as far as procedure, for example if everything was done correctly with the breath test.
They will want to subpoena the records from the department of forensic science to see if there are any anomalies in the records that could be used to challenge the results. They can also explore whether the defendant has any medical conditions that might cause the results to be wrong. If there is a red flag that is raised, then an expert could look at the case, and the expert could then be a witness at trial to explain how the result of the machine or the blood test could be challenged.
In Fairfax County, there is no open file discovery policy for defense attorneys for DUIs at all. You have to get the facts of the case from your client first, and then you go to the court date. You are usually able to speak with a police officer and he can orally tell you what happened. You are not provided with a police report, ever. A prosecutor might let you look at it, but it is not something that you are provided, and that is a challenge.
That is different than some other jurisdictions that allow defense attorneys to read through those police reports before their court dates. Fairfax County allows defense attorneys to have a continuance after the first court date, because they’re just learning the facts on that first court date. That is helpful, because it does give you more time to prepare after you have interviewed the officer.
If you have a case in the city of Alexandria, they do provide open file discovery and they give the defense attorney the opportunity to review the police report. That provides a more even playing field so the defense attorney is prepared when they come to court.
Arlington is different from Fairfax in the sense that Arlington does allow defense attorneys to review the reports, which is very helpful. Arlington County’s judges do not liberally grant continuances, so it is important for an attorney to make sure that they are ready for trial on the first court date.
Each locality has a different prosecutor’s office and judges, and it is important for the attorney to know who they are, how they handle their case, how prepared they are, and how willing they are to work with defense attorneys for plea agreements and things of that nature. Having an attorney who practices a lot in the jurisdiction in which the defendant was charged is very important.
Depending on the county, there could be a difference in the district attorney’s offices and whether they are amenable to certain types of plea deals, or whether they are amenable to amending a charge to reckless driving. In Fairfax, Alexandria, and Arlington, generally they are not amenable. That could be different in other jurisdictions, as well as the recommendations for sentencing to the court.
There could be some Commonwealth’s Attorney’s offices across the state that will ask for jail time in cases in which there is not even any statutory mandatory time. There could be judges who view certain types of DUI cases differently. In cases in which there is an elevated blood alcohol content, there could be a local culture that treats those differently than another county.
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