A subpoena is an order used to obtain evidence for a court case. You, as the defendant, have a right to present evidence to the court in your defense. You can use a subpoena to get this evidence. The prosecuting attorney also has the right to gather and submit evidence. If you take your DUI case to trial, you and the prosecutor will both collect and submit evidence through the process of discovery. The court will get copies of the evidence, too.
Two types of evidence can be helpful in DUI cases: documents/records and testimony from witnesses. You can use a subpoena to get both these types of evidence. Now let's take a look at how to subpoena for documents and testimony in your DUI case.
The court must approve some—but not all—subpoenas. Regardless of the type of subpoena, the person subpoenaed must follow the order under penalty, meaning they would face penalties imposed by the court if they do not.
To get evidence like records, documents, and recordings, you must serve a subpoena on the records custodian. This type of subpoena is called a subpoena duces tecum and does not have to be issued by a judge. It does, however, need to be served according to court rules and procedure. If you do not serve a subpoena properly, it may not be valid, and you may not be able to obtain the evidence.
The most common piece of evidence a defendant might obtain in a DUI case is the results of his or her chemical test. A chemical test can be done using a sample of blood, breath, or urine. The results of this test can help you build a defense to your charges, so it's important to know how to obtain these records. A skilled attorney may also request records of the usage and maintenance of the breathalyzer device. These records could reveal any improper methods or failure to follow protocol for the maintenance and calibration of the device and the training the officer received before using the device.
Other types of evidence include video or audio recordings of the arrest, recordings of 911 calls or traffic collision reports if you were involved in an accident, and personnel records of the arresting officer.
If you want to obtain these pieces of evidence but have not received them directly from the prosecution or any law enforcement agencies, you can file a subpoena. But first, you must make an informal request for the evidence you want. Then you must wait 15 days before making a discovery motion to seek court enforcement. If you are working with an attorney, he or she can make an informal request and then file a motion after the 15 days if the evidence was never produced.
If you want to subpoena a witness to come to court to provide testimony, the process is a little different. Instead of serving a records custodian with the subpoena, you serve the witness directly. In California DUI cases, the prosecutor calls most witnesses. The arresting officer may have talked to witnesses who saw you driving under the influence or the victims of an accident you caused while under the influence. Not surprisingly, these witnesses are your worst enemy. Don't expect their testimony to fall in your favor.
Instead, work with an attorney to identify possible witnesses who could help your case. For example, if you have a medical condition that causes your breath alcohol levels to run high, you might want to subpoena an expert witness—like a doctor—who can confirm or support your claim. You will need the court to approve the subpoena before you serve the witness, so you will have to explain the relevance of the subpoena. Be thoughtful about who you subpoena, and consult with an attorney who can tell you whether or not your witness's testimony is likely to help your case.
The court enforces various rules and procedures for gathering evidence in criminal cases that you must follow. Failing to obtain the right pieces of evidence or obtaining them illegally by not following the rules can spell disaster for your case. A good attorney can advise you on what pieces of evidence you should obtain and how to do it successfully. Without this guidance, it will be very hard to win your case, as evidence is a vital part of the criminal defense process.
If you are in the Visalia, Hanford or Tulare area and are facing DUI charges, The Law Offices of Christopher Martens is here to help you. California DUI defense attorney Christopher Martens can help you face your charges so you can move on with your life. Attorney Martens has handled thousands of cases over a span of ten years of criminal defense practice and can fight hard for your rights. Contact attorney Christopher Martens for experienced criminal defense counsel today. Contact our office at 559-967-7386 or email us at [email protected] to discuss a possible plan of action for your case.