A Pitchess motion is used to request personnel records and other background information about officers involved in your case. It could help you show a pattern of foul play and potentially help you win your DUI case.
Police are not allowed to engage in any misconduct, abuse or profiling while doing their job. Unfortunately, this misconduct still happens, sometimes intentionally through foul play and other times through simple errors. If you have reason to believe there was misconduct in your case, it could be a very powerful defense—and could even get your case dismissed. But how do you prove it?
This is where a Pitchess motion can help. The Pitchess motion is named after a California Supreme Court case where a man was beaten brutally by deputies, who lied and claimed they were responding in self-defense after he assaulted them. The man’s lawyer wanted access to the deputies’ personnel records to see if they had done this kind of think before, but the Sheriff’s Department refused to release any information. Eventually, the state Supreme Court ordered the documents released, and the victim was able to prove their misconduct.
Today, you can use a Pitchess motion any time you have grounds to believe there was misconduct in your case.
When can I use a Pitchess motion?
You cannot use it to simply go fishing for any information that would make officers look bad. Instead, you have to have “good cause” to believe misconduct took place, and you need to request specific records with your motion.
Examples of misconduct include:
- Planting or manipulating evidence
- Excessive use of force
- Racial profiling or any discriminatory profiling
- Police are lying about what information they have gathered, or have falsified police reports
- Coercing a confession
If you believe that any of these has happened in your case, it is well worth your lawyer’s time to file a Pitchess motion. The documents you request may or may not prove your case, and they may not make the officers look bad at all. However, sometimes the request will reveal that the same officers have been disciplined for similar misconduct before, or are even under investigation. If this is the case, it lends credence to your claim of misconduct.
The end result could be getting your DUI case dismissed entirely, meaning you effectively win it. Or, you may simply get falsified evidence suppressed in the case, which makes the case against you much weaker. In some cases a prosecutor won’t even want to pursue a case where police misconduct was involved, and will consider a deal or dropping the charges.
You Can Win Your DUI Case
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