One of the lesser-known elements of a DWI investigation is the discovery process that leads up to trial. Discovery is both an important tool and a statutory right of the defendant in any criminal defense case, including DWI. But what is it?
Typically, discovery is an aspect of litigation associated with civil cases. In a civil case both the defendant and plaintiff are entitled to the documents, information, and basis of testimony that each side will use in the case. In addition, both sides are entitled to damaging information that would not otherwise be used at trial.
What you may not know is that discovery is also a right of defendants in a DWI case. However, the rules for what a defendant is entitled to are much more restricted in a criminal case than in a civil case. There are important aspects of discovery in a criminal case that can work as an important tool in a DWI defense.
Right to Information
The underlying principle to discovery in a criminal case is giving the defendant an opportunity to defend against the charges made against him or her. As the old adage states: Knowledge is power. By asking for and receiving discovery from the prosecution, the defendant’s legal team will then better know what information the prosecution will use to present their case, and better defend against it.
Under the rules of discovery, a defendant can request and receive copies of nearly everything in the prosecution’s possession that will be used at trial. This includes police officer reports of what happened, scientific evidence of blood alcohol levels, or breath tests. It even extends to any photographic or electronic evidence that would be used at trial. What good is this, you may ask?
Discovery is important because it helps a defendant know what the prosecution will use in their case, and prepare against it. For example, if there are conflicting reports among police officers about what happened during the investigation, then that would go a long way to introduce doubt into the minds of the jurors. Likewise, if actual physical evidence contradicts what is in a written report, then that too can help in a defense.
On the other side of the coin, a mountain of evidence held by the prosecution could lead a defendant to plead guilty instead of going to trial. Or, if the evidence is contradictory or scant, then a defendant would know better to take a case to trial. All of these reasons combine to make up a large part of the defense of a DWI charge.
A Counselor at Law
With every DWI case there is a mountain of information and evidence that will be involved. Understanding all of the evidence and providing sage advice based on what the information states is key to any DWI case. If you are facing a DWI charge you need a counselor at law who can give you the best information and advice possible. If you are charged with DWI, contact us. At The Wilder DWI Defense Firm we will help you understand what your rights and options are.