A Trombetta-Youngblood motion is a formal request to the court that the judge dismiss the case against you on the grounds that evidence has been destroyed or lost. If there was potentially helpful evidence that was destroyed in your DUI case, a Trombetta-Youngblood motion could allow you to effectively win your case.
Any evidence collected for a DUI case must be preserved, and the government has a duty to do so. Even though most evidence is collected by police and the prosecution, they must preserve it according to the rules even if it could help clear your name. Unfortunately, this does not always happen. If evidence has been destroyed, lost or allowed to degrade in your DUI case, and that evidence may have been able to help support your case if it had been preserved, you can file a request known as a Trombetta-Youngblood motion.
The name of this motion comes from two important court cases. One, which went all the way to the Supreme Court, involved a man who was wrongly convicted for supposedly sexually assaulting a child. Police had found clothing with semen on it, but failed to store it properly, and DNA testing could not be performed on it. Only years later, when DNA test technology had improved, was the man able to prove that he was innocent.
How does a Trombetta-Youngblood motion work?
You can file a Trombetta-Youngblood motion in two situations:
- Evidence was destroyed, and the evidence would have been “exculpatory,” or helped clear your name, or at least very favorable—helping support your case. If the evidence in question would clearly have helped you, you have a valid motion.
- Evidence was destroyed, and it’s not clear whether it would have been favorable, but there was some act of bad faith involved in how it was destroyed. For example, if police intentionally “lost” or mishandled the evidence, that would be bad faith.
The judge will then review your motion and consider both sides. Depending on the how strong your motion is, and the circumstances involved, the judge may decide to dismiss one or more of the charges against you. Essentially, a successful Trombetta-Youngblood motion means that you were deprived of a fair chance to defend yourself, and your rights have been violated.
In a DUI, a successful Trombetta-Youngblood motion may mean that the entire case is dismissed. Or, it may mean that an enhancement is dismissed, and you face a normal DUI with a less severe sentence. You can read more about how Trombetta-Youngblood motions are used in DUI cases and see examples here.
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