Normally, prosecutors should turn over all evidence requested by the defense during the “discovery” process. If they do not, you can use a discovery motion to force them. This can help yo build a stronger DUI defense.
If you enter a plea of Not Guilty to your DUI charge, you need to start the process of building your case and potentially defending yourself at court. One of the first and most important of these steps is “discovery,” where your lawyer requests documents and evidence from the prosecutor. The prosecutor is required to turn over any relevant evidence that is requested. This could include:
- Specific pieces of evidence you request, or specific documents
- All of the evidence the prosecutor intends to use against you
- Broad categories of information, such as “all statements from witnesses”
Normally, your lawyer will request this information and the prosecutor will provide it in a timely manner. If they do not, you can formally request that the judge force them to hand it over. This formal request is known as a discovery motion.
Why would the prosecutor refuse to turn over evidence?
Prosecutors may fail to meet your discovery request for several reasons:
- Foul play. It is possible that a prosecutor is intentionally withholding information that could help your case. This is rare, as it’s a major ethics violation, but it is not unheard of.
- Overworked. Prosecutors and their staff often have huge caseloads. They may simply be behind on getting you the information you requested.
- Deemed irrelevant. Sometimes prosecutors hold out information that is, in their opinion, irrelevant to the case or outside the scope of your discovery request. You still have a right to this information if you believe it is relevant.
- Miscommunication. Imagine that you submitted to a blood test during your DUI arrest. Your lawyer may have requested that the prosecutor provide the complete testing protocols used by their lab, but they provide more general information about the lab instead. This may be a simple miscommunication, but you still have a right to the information.
What happens when I file a discovery motion?
The judge will consider your reasoning for why you need the evidence. If they agree that it is relevant to your case, they will order the prosecutor to turn it over.
What if the prosecutor still withholds information?
If you discover that the prosecutor had other information relevant to your case, and they did not share it, you could file a Brady motion which could potentially get the charges against you dismissed.
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