Discovery Process in DC DUIs
In a DUI case, the discovery process is the process by which DC DUI defense lawyers make requests to the prosecutor in the case for the prosecutor’s evidence. Discovery always takes place as a request made by the defense lawyer to the prosecutor in the case.
Sometimes they involve requests made by the prosecutors to the defense, but in most DUI cases, discovery is the process by which the defense finds out the prosecutor’s evidence and the various types of evidence they plan to use against the defendant in the case.
Discovery can sometimes begin before a defendant has been arraigned. In some situations, a defense lawyer can make requests of the prosecutors before an initial court date, but for the most part, the discovery process begins at the arraignment date.
At an arraignment date, a DC DUI defense lawyer can file a request for discovery with the prosecutor in open court and supplement that discovery request with additional discovery requests throughout the case. Washington, DC’s procedures and laws grant the defense the ability to request a huge number of different types of evidence in any criminal case, including a DUI case.
In most situations, it is the responsibility of the defense lawyers to make requests for these items. In some situations, if the requests are not made, the prosecutors do not have an obligation to turn information over. Having a DUI defense lawyer make a broad request for discovery, but also a request for specific types of discovery, is very important.
Discovery is usually defined as the process of receiving information directly from the prosecutors. That does not mean the defense can only get information from the prosecutors. Defense lawyers can conduct their own investigation by contacting their own witnesses, speaking with expert witnesses, taking photographs, or analyzing other evidence on their own without relying on the government for that information.
The initial steps of investigating a DUI case always involve requesting police reports, toxicology results, breath test results, and any witness statements that the prosecution has collected as part of their own investigation in a DUI case.
There are a wide range of discoverable materials available. Typically, DUI discovery requests will include a request for the final result of a breath test as well as for calibration documents, accuracy checks, and any other information related to any breath test that may have been taken in a DUI.
It also includes requests for information about anyone who may have conducted a blood or urine toxicology test to determine the tester’s qualifications to conduct such a test. Discovery requests also include requests for any reports or hand written notes by any police officers involved in the investigation.
In some situations, it can also include video evidence. Video evidence is a much newer type of evidence in the District of Columbia DUI cases, but it is slowly broadening to include more types of video.
For a while, the D.C. police did not use body cameras, so the only video evidence that defense attorneys could request as part of their discovery request was stationary surveillance camera footage from district police stations. Gradually, the Metropolitan Police Department in DC, along with the other police agencies in DC, have started requiring that their officers wear and use body cameras.
It is the responsibility of the defense lawyer to make a request for body camera footage at the earliest possible time. It is still the case in Washington, DC that the Metropolitan Police Department, Capitol Police, US Park Police, and most other police agencies in DC do not use dash cameras on police squad cars. That may change at a later date, but squad cars in DC do not utilize dash cameras.