The discovery process begins in a DC DUI case at the arraignment, which is the first court appearance. The defense can make a written, but less specific, discovery request at arraignment and then follow up with a more specific discovery request. Once the attorney receives initial discovery from the government, they may decide to make more specific requests.
When the DC DUI lawyer requests discovery, they ask for discovery from the government or the prosecutor in the case. When there is a dispute, sometimes it is necessary to go to the judge and have the judge resolve that dispute.
To best understand the discovery process as it pertains to your DUI case in DC, it is important to consult with a Washington DC DUI attorney as soon as possible.
Discoverable materials in a DC DUI case include police reports filled out by the officer who did the investigation. Most importantly, there are recordings of body cameras worn by the investigating officers and station house video showing any chemical testing and also showing the person arrested for a DUI as they enter the police station and were processed.
DC law enforcement is not primarily responsible for interacting with a defense attorney on discovery. Law enforcement generally provides the information with the materials to the prosecutor, who then provides it to the defense lawyer.
Part of the discovery rules in DC DUI cases requires that informal discovery is attempted first. That means the parties must deal with each other before going to the court.
If the defense attorney makes a request to the government and is refused on a certain issue that cannot be resolved, the attorney goes to court for a resolution.
Formal discovery is when one party is required to request the discovery from the prosecutor. That starts orally and then in the form of a letter requesting discovery where the attorney sends a letter memorializing the request. If the defense attorney requests something and it is not provided, the attorney can go to the court for help by filing a motion to compel discovery.
In the District of Columbia, discovery is covered Super. Ct. R. Crim. R. 16, which tracks the Federal Rules. Rule 16 deals with discovery. The government’s requirements as to what must be provided to the defense attorney are laid out in Rule 16. They include the police report, the opportunity to view tangible evidence, the notice of any experts the government plans to use, and scientific test results like breath test results. Those are the basics required. The defense attorney might request from the government, evidence on how a breath machine was calibrated or repaired over a certain number of years.
The prosecutors often handle the discovery process in a case. When a defense lawyer makes a discovery request, the prosecutor must gather information from law enforcement. The prosecutor does the liaison work with law enforcement in that situation.
The government is required to turn over discovery in a case they are prosecuting. They have a responsibility to turn the information over to the defense or provide an argument as to why it should not be turned over to the defense. In that case, the issue is argued by both sides before a judge.
A subpoena is a tool used by the prosecution and defense to obtain information. A subpoena is used to gain access to information that might fall outside of the standard rules of discovery. It is a court order that requires a person or a corporation to turn over the information relevant to a case. It is governed by Super. Ct. R. Crim. R. 17 and is a valuable tool for investigating all sorts of criminal cases including DUIs.
If a person is pulled over at a specific location and their attorney knows a traffic camera was recording there at the time the person was pulled over, the attorney can obtain the traffic camera footage for review. They subpoena the police department to provide the footage.
It is most important to make use of the discovery process in a DC DUI case. The defense attorney must be aggressive in trying to get documents from the government to get information and also to go outside that. The attorney can use subpoenas and other tools to get information that is otherwise unavailable and they must be creative with it.
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