California and U.S. discovery rules play an important part in defending your driving under the influence case. Under authority such as the Supreme Court Case of Brady v. Maryland
and California Penal Code section 1054.1, the prosecution is required to provide information to you or your attorney before the case proceeds to trial. Under the Maryland
decision, the US Constitution requires the prosecution to provide anything in their possession that is “exculpatory”. Being exculpatory means that the information tends to cast doubt on your guilt, or may mitigate in your punishment. “Their possession” includes anything in the possession of law enforcement, such as the police department, not just what the DA has actual physical possession of.
Penal Code section 1054.1 is the statutory requirement that the prosecution provide your attorney with the evidence they will use against you well in advance of the trial. This prevents the DA from surprising you with a “gotcha” moment at trial.
If the prosecution fails to provide discovery at the appropriate time the judge has several sanctions he can impose. In the most egregious violations of discovery rules the judge can dismiss the DA’s case. In cases where the failure was inadvertent, or simply late, the judge can exclude certain evidence from being used at trial. He can also give the jury a special instruction to view the late discovered evidence with skepticism.
Typical discovery demands in a DUI case include all police reports, audio and video recordings, the officer’s personal notes of the event, and maintenance and calibration records for the breath, blood, or urine test you submitted to. Often your attorney will request more discovery, such as policy and procedure manuals or the officer’s personnel record. Getting all necessary discovery well in advance of trial is critical to obtaining a successful outcome in your driving under the influence case.
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