WTKR in Norfolk Hampton reports on Virginia Beach Commonwealth’s Attorney Harvey Bryant, and his believe that a majority of the US Supreme Court “doesn’t really know what they’re talking about.”
Prosecutors across Virginia are dealing with the aftermath of the Melendez-Diaz case, which stated that forensic expert witness testimony must be provided to support documentary evidence in cases where that evidence is used in prosecutions. The Justices determined that the Constitutional right to “confront one’s accuser” is more important than the adminstrative hassles of prosecuters who would prefer to enter a document into evidence unchallenged, as has been allowed up until this ruling.
According to WTKR 10% of all DUI cases in Virginia are in Virginia Beach, and there are only 3 people in Virginia that calibrate breath test machines, the kind of forensic evidence witnesses now being sought by defense lawyers, to challenge these cases.
It is certainly likely that Virginia DUI defense lawyers are only asking for these witnesses in most cases, because they know the Commonwealth will have a tough time rounding up these experts, and they can argue for a dismissal or a reduced sentence in a plea-bargain. According to this report, that’s already happened in a number of Virginia Beach DUI cases.
But there is a good chance that this is only a temporary tactical advantage for the defense. As soon as Virginia fixes this imbalance and is able to provide the witnesses, in most situations, drunk driving defense lawyers won’t bother in cases where the witness is unlikely to provide any reasonable doubt that would help the defendent.
Constitutionally guaranteed rights are inconveneint for the state by design. The easiest thing for the state would be for police to arrest people and sentence them to jail time on the spot. But no one thinks that is a good idea.
The principle of innocent until proven guilty is paramount under the law. And the balance of power has been shifting to the prosecution for decades. This is one small win for the rights of the accused.
Just because it is a hassle for prosecutors is no reason to argue against the rights and freedoms of our citizens as envisioned by our founding fathers.
If you are accused of a DUI in Virginia Beach or anywhere in Virginia, please contact us for a free consultation on your charges, and what we can do to fight them in court.