Virginia DUI Discovery Process 

When defending a DUI charge, there may be a point where your attorney needs to access certain information in order to build your case. Your lawyer may need to file a motion to compel discovery. In doing so, they are asking the court to compel the prosecution/government, to turn over any relevant evidence that they may have been holding onto. If you want to know more about discovery, or the Virginia DUI discovery process, get in touch with a knowledgeable DUI attorney that can answer your questions.

DUI Discovery Process

Every court has rules for discovery. The Virginia DUI discovery process allows a defense attorney to gain information about the government’s case. Every jurisdiction within a state has its own policies and processes by which discovery is granted. There are some counties in Virginia where the defense attorney has to go in person and view the government’s files. The prosecution may be willing to open their file and let the defense see everything but the person cannot take anything with them, so a bit of legwork is sometimes required.

Other jurisdictions provide written discovery where the government attorney has to sit down and write a discovery response that includes elements that are required by the rules of Virginia. Whereas, some jurisdictions require the government to provide oral discovery on the day of trial. It varies greatly from county to county and from state to state. A DUI lawyer needs to be well versed in the policies and processes of the county in which a person is charged to maximize the amount of discovery that they are going to get before trial, so they will have a much better idea of where things stand before the defendant’s court date.

When Does Discovery Begin

The process begins when a defense lawyer files a motion for discovery. In some jurisdictions, a person can call the prosecutor and look at their file. They do not need to mess around with filing a discovery motion. In most jurisdictions, they do require a person to file a discovery motion. The judge will grant an order and they will follow whatever protocols are in place for that particular county.

The evidence discoverable materials include varies greatly from county to county. There are some jurisdictions where a person can make a call, set up a time, and go to the prosecutor’s office and look at their entire file. There are other jurisdictions that do not let persons do that, but rather they will provide written discovery about limited amounts of items. It varies greatly and different counties have different procedures for viewing and acquiring discovery.

Who Can a Defense Attorney Seek Discovery From?

During the Virginia DUI discovery process, defense attorneys can get discovery from a prosecutor, the Commonwealth attorney in Virginia. In some jurisdictions, a person has to file a motion for discovery and let the judge sign on a discovery order. In other jurisdictions, a person can call up the prosecutor’s office and make an appointment to go there and look through whatever they are willing to give that person. The government is the one that produces the discovery for a person. It is the only entity from which an individual will get discovery. The government’s role is extraordinarily important.

Subpoenas in Drunk Driving Cases

A subpoena is an order for a person to either bring themselves or some sort of documentation to the court. A witness subpoena means a person has to show up in court on a trial date and provide testimony about the case at hand. A document subpoena referred to as a subpoena duces tecum requires a person to submit documentation or other evidence to the court in advance of the court date.

There are lots of different circumstances where a subpoena might be used in a DUI case. Some DUI cases originate from a traffic accident where the police officer did not see the defendant driving a car. Under those circumstances, the government needs to subpoena other drivers who did see the defendant driving to substantiate that they were operating a motor vehicle. There are other circumstances where subpoenas come into play are cases that involve blood.

When taking part in the Virginia DUI discovery process, lawyers issue a subpoena to the Virginia Department of Forensic Science to command them to provide every bit of data and information surrounding the analysis of the blood that they performed on their client. In breath cases, attorneys subpoena information from the government about the machine that they used to take the breath test and everything about that individual test, the machine, and all of its data records, repair records, and calibration records.

Aspects of the DUI Discovery Process

The discovery rules in Virginia are extraordinarily limited. They are probably the most limited discovery rules that exist in any state. If a jurisdiction is playing by the book and sticking to those rules, the amount of discovery that a person is going to get is going to be low. Most jurisdictions, especially when a person has a lawyer who is a known commodity in that jurisdiction, will be able to get more than that which is allowable under the rules of Virginia. This is where it becomes vital to contact a lawyer with experience with the Virginia DUI discovery process. Working with an attorney that knows how to get the maximum amount of information from the government before your case goes to trial, is going to be critical in helping a person’s defense. A well-prepared lawyer is your best asset, so contact a lawyer today.