What Is Discovery in a DWI/OWI Case?

Discovery is an essential component of our justice system. It ensures that, for criminal defendants, they understand the nature of the evidence against them. Knowing the state’s evidence is critical to presenting the best possible defense.

An experienced Indianapolis DWI defense lawyer will understand the discovery rules in criminal cases. Here, Rathburn Law Office P.C. takes a close look at how these rules can work in your favor.

The Basics of Criminal Discovery

For a person charged with a criminal offense, discovery concerns the evidence that the prosecution must turn over. The prosecutor in most Indiana jurisdictions must abide by mandatory discovery rules. This means that certain evidence the State or law enforcement has in its possession must be handed over to the defendant.

Such evidence might include the following:

  • Information about the charges
  • Probable cause report
  • Police reports
  • Forensic reports
  • 911 call records
  • Police body cameras
  • Witness statements

Your Indianapolis DWI/OWI defense lawyer will help ensure the prosecutor hands over the evidence as required. After this crucial step has been completed, your attorney will begin independently investigating the allegations and evidence. The importance of this investigation should not be overlooked.

Your lawyer will examine the State’s evidence and look for:

  • Weaknesses in the evidence
  • Mishandling of evidence
  • Evidence that may actually exonerate you
  • Any other evidentiary issues that could help your defense

Discovery can further be used to obtain evidence beyond that which the State must turn over.

One example is the request for production of documents. The State may need to turn records over other than those required under mandatory discovery rules. Perhaps a law enforcement officer involved in your case mishandled evidence in the past. While this may not touch directly on your charges, it could prove to be relevant information.

Third parties may also be sent discovery requests. For instance, businesses in the area could be asked to turn over surveillance video that separately recorded your traffic stop. This may present something left out of, for instance, police body camera footage.

Your Indianapolis DUI defense attorney will use all available tools to obtain evidence to bolster your DWI/OWI case.

Will This Evidence Be Presented at Trial?

Some defendants wonder if all of this evidence will necessarily be used at trial. In other words, can discovery be used to avoid trying your case? It’s certainly possible.

Let’s say at the end of discovery it becomes clear that law enforcement was in the wrong. Maybe the evidence is weak or it was somehow compromised. Perhaps the police violated your constitutional rights in obtaining the evidence.

At this point, your attorney may approach the prosecution and demand the case be dismissed. Or the evidence could be used to support a plea bargain. If these avenues are not available, and your case is tried, then the evidence helping your defense could then be introduced.

Charged With a DWI/OWI Offense? Let Our Team Go to Work For You

Ultimately, what discovery accomplishes is a level playing field where the defendant understands what the prosecutor knows. This opens up alternatives to a trial like dismissal of the case or a plea bargain.

Having a skilled Indianapolis DWI/OWI attorney in your corner will help you use discovery to your advantage. If you’re facing DUI or related charges, talk to Rathburn Law Office P.C. today.