Discovery in Manassas DUI Cases
Under the Virginia rules of criminal procedure, there is limited discovery, which is available to a Manassas DUI defendant upon filing the proper motion. Once this motion is filed, a judge will enter an order requiring the Commonwealth to provide discovery and then before or on the date set by the court, the Commonwealth will have to turn over a number of things.
Discovery can include a large number of things. Typically, what the defense receives in discovery includes everything from any statements that the defendant has made and will also include a certified copy of the breath test, a copy of the police officer’s field notes, and any dash cam video, which was recorded at the time.
The three main things that the prosecution has to turn over are:
- The criminal record of the accused
- Any statements that have been made by the accused, which the government plans to introduce at court
- The results of any scientific tests that had been performed.
In practice, in most jurisdictions, the government will provide more discovery than just those three things and will make police officers and other witnesses available to be interviewed at court so that the defendant can gain a clearer picture of what the government’s case is going to be, but this is something that is done informally and is not something that they are necessarily required to do.
Discovery Process in Manassas
The safest way to conduct discovery in Manassas is to submit it through the court so that the Commonwealth is required to turn over the materials that they have to the defense. It is possible to show up at court and simply ask for an interview with the officer or for other discoverable materials to be turned over, but there is simply no requirement that the government must do it and, in some cases, they may not.
There is reciprocal discovery in criminal cases and there are certain things that must be turned over by the accused if a discovery order is entered in favor of the government.
It is fairly unusual except in felony cases for the government to seek discovery, but there are a number of things that they may be able to discover such as whether the accused intends to assert an alibi or an insanity defense.
A subpoena is a court order, which commands an individual—typically someone who is not a party to the case—to either appear and give testimony as a witness or to produce a certain document to the court or make a certain thing available for inspection. If a subpoena is not honored, then a person can be placed in contempt of court.
In some DUI cases, there may be documents that would be important to the defense, which they would want to acquire by subpoena. For example, sometimes there will be medical records of the accused, which the defense would want to direct a document subpoena to. In other cases, there may be witnesses to the DUI charge or some facet of the DUI charge, who the defense would want to compel to come to court to give testimony in favor of the defendant.
Important Aspects of Discovery
What is important to know about the discovery process in DUI cases is that some information is going to be available to the defense attorney in advance of court and this can be important information that will help the them to shape their defense and prepare for court.
However, in most cases, there is important evidence that the defense will not learn until they actually get to court and have an opportunity to speak to the prosecutor, speak to the police officer, and find out more about the government’s case.