One of the most important variables in a Sonoma County DUI case is that of the evidence that can be presented against you. When your case goes to Court, you will present your case, and the prosecutors will present theirs. Each side of the case will hinge upon evidence and the stronger the evidence, the stronger your case will be.
One of the biggest pieces of evidence is that of the officer’s report. Often called discovery, the officer’s report establishes a crucial part of your case, the reason for the stop or detention and ultimately the arrest. When you are pulled over, there are mandated procedures and legal standards that law enforcement officers must follow.
If they fail to follow these procedures, the case could be dismissed, or the prosecutor could be more inclined to reduce the charges. Because of this, law enforcement officers attempt to carefully monitor their conduct and strive to accurately record all the pertinent facts in their report. This police report will then be carefully scrutinized and analyzed by the Sonoma County DUI Lawyer you retain to represent you.
For example, an officer must have reasonable cause to stop you in the first place. If they do not have reasonable cause, it is not a valid stop. There are several ways officers can meet this procedural requirement. One way is if you violate a traffic law. This could be speeding, running a red light, failing to stop at a stop sign, or even not having your headlights on at night.
Another way is if you are pulled over at the side of the road with car trouble or perhaps after an accident. This qualifies as a welfare check. Officers have the right to stop and check to see if you are alright and if you need any assistance.
Officers must articulate and document the reasons why they stopped you in the first place in their report. If they did not have a valid reason, any evidence gathered thereafter is not admissible in court, and your case could be dismissed.
Officers must also have reasonable cause to ask you to submit to an alcohol screening test. They cannot arbitrarily ask you to submit to one. This is a very subjective area. The reasonable cause could be based on the observations of the officer alone.
Many times, this requirement is met by the officer simply stating in his report that he smelled alcohol, or that the driver appeared to have symptoms that indicated he or she was under the influence—slurring speech, watery eyes, staggering gait, et al.
Fortunately, many police vehicles are now equipped with recording devices and there is audio and/or video recording in evidence. More importantly, many officers themselves are required to turn on their body worn cameras (BWC) pursuant to an arrest so this evidence can now be compared to the police report narrative.
All evidence that the prosecutor acquires for their case in chief is available to you to review prior to entering a plea. It is up to your Sonoma County DUI Lawyer to obtain all the discovery, police reports, supplemental reports and every bit of audio and video evidence before either settling your case or setting it for a trial.
Having the benefit of an experienced and knowledgeable professional reviewing your discovery, ensures that you can prepare the strongest case possible, and prepare for the weaknesses in your case. All these steps will ensure that you give your case the strongest possible fighting chance.
Contact Fiumara and Milligan Law today at 707-571-8600 for a free case evaluation. Since 1992 ‘We have been a powerful advocate for Good people who sometimes make bad choices…
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