Fort Worth DWI Discovery Process
When a person is charged with driving while intoxicated, or a DWI, in Fort Worth, the time between the initial charge and the case being resolved is long. There is a long process involved that includes a hearing, an arraignment, and possibly even a trial. However, one of the most controversial aspects of this process is the discovery period.
The Fort Worth DWI discovery process is extremely important when trying to prove the defendant’s innocence. But it is a process that is skewed in the favor of the prosecution. Most often it is a criminal defense attorney that will take part in the DWI discovery process. They have the knowledge to know what to look for and how to get it. For this reason, and so many more, those charged with a DUI should speak to an attorney as soon as possible.
The DWI Discovery Process Explained
Soon after a person is charged with a DWI, the case will enter a discovery period. During this time, the prosecution will have to provide the defendant and their attorney with all the evidence they have indicating the defendant’s guilt. This evidence could be in the form of police reports, witness statements, dash cam videos, blood, urine, or breath test results, or anything else that could incriminate the defendant and is relevant to the case.
An attorney can review all this evidence and determine how strong of a case the prosecution has against the defendant. The DWI discovery process in Fort Worth is also very important as it allows the attorney to start preparing the best defense for the defendant.
Discoverable evidence includes everything from police reports compiled by the investigating officer to video recordings taken using body cameras worn by investigating officers and dashboard cameras that record the arrest. Videos of the breathalyzer and blood tests, as well as the processes at the police station after an arrest, also qualify as discoverable evidence.
It’s worth noting that law enforcement isn’t primarily responsible for providing discoverable evidence or interacting with defense attorneys on discovery issues. Law enforcement provides discoverable evidence to the prosecutor who forwards the evidence to the DWI defense lawyer.
Informal vs. formal discovery
A DWI case can go through informal followed by a formal discovery process. An informal discovery involves informal requests for discovery evidence. If the defense attorney doesn’t get the information they need, they can place a formal request.
In a formal discovery, a defense lawyer can write a letter requesting some evidence. If such evidence isn’t provided, the lawyer can proceed to court to compel the release of whatever information is required. In most cases, there’s usually no reason why evidence is withheld since it will still be acquired formally.
The prosecution has the mandate to cooperate during discovery. They should give all information to the defense or offer valid arguments on why some information shouldn’t be provided. In such cases, both sides must argue before a judge.
Use of subpoenas in discovery
The defense can use subpoenas to obtain information about a DWI case. Subpoenas given access to information falling outside standard rules of a discovery process. Subpoenas are simply court orders requiring submission of information pertinent to a case. Subpoenas are valuable tools for all kinds of cases, including DWIs, especially when the prosecution side is refusing to give out valuable discoverable evidence that can make or break a case.
If you were pulled over in a place with traffic cameras, your attorney could use a subpoena to obtain such footage. The order will compel the police department to release such records. Law enforcement among other public departments aren’t obligated to release such information unless there is a court order to do so.
Problems with the Discovery Process
The discovery process should always work in the defendant’s best interests during a DWI case. It allows for them and their attorney to know what they will be facing in court, what defense should be used, and whether the prosecution really has a strong case. However, it does not always work that way.
There are many times when the prosecution withholds evidence and information from the defendant and their attorney. This can be extremely damaging to the defendant’s case. It could cause them to not have the proper defense prepared and take them by surprise in court. Worse, the prosecution rarely faces any consequences or penalties for withholding evidence.
When presented with evidence not given during the Fort Worth DWI discovery process, a criminal defense attorney can then ask to file for a motion to suppress. This motion can ask the judge to disallow any evidence the prosecution is presenting if it was not disclosed during discovery.
However, the judge does not always grant this motion. Unlike a defendant who did not abide by proper procedures during the trial, there are times when the prosecution will not face any penalties for failing to disclose everything during the discovery process. When this is the case, the most that will happen is that the defendant can ask for a week’s continuance in the case. However, that also may be beneficial to the prosecution.
Why a Fort Worth Attorney is Important in the DWI Discovery Process
When facing DWI charges, those accused must speak with an attorney that can help. Not only will a criminal defense attorney help the defendant build a defense for their case, but an attorney could be invaluable during the discovery process.
An attorney will know what to ask and look for during the Fort Worth DWI discovery process. But they will also know what to do if the prosecution does not present them with all the evidence.
If you have been charged with a DWI, speak to an attorney who can help you today. This is a very confusing and complicated time, from the time of arrest to the last court date, and you may need an attorney fighting for you and your rights.