You just got a DUI charge in Fairfax VA. Now, you are considering your options. You could represent yourself in court to save some money. But is this a good idea?
Let’s look at just one aspect of a DUI case – the Blood Alcohol Analysis. If the prosecutor admits the certificate as evidence – what do you do?
Here from a book on DUI legal defense is an opinion of the situation:
Certificate of Blood Alcohol Analysis.
A. Certificates of Analysis and the Confrontation Clause. The issue of whether evidence affidavits giving the results of forensic analysis are testimonial—making their affiants witnesses subject to the defendant’s Sixth Amendment right to confrontation—has been hotly contested. The United States Supreme Court delivered an opinion on the issue in Melendez-Diaz v. Massachusetts. In Melendez-Diaz, the trial court overruled both the defendant’s objection to the admission of the certificate of analysis and his contention that the Confrontation Clause required the analysts to testify in person. He had contended that the certificates of analysis served the same purpose as a witness on direct examination, and were akin to live, in-court testimony. The Supreme Court ruled that this issue was merely an application of its holding in Crawford v. Washington, and that “[t]he Sixth Amendment does not permit the prosecution to prove its case via ex parte out-of-court affidavits, and the admission of such evidence against Melendez-Diaz was error.” Melendez-Diaz was entitled to confront the analysts at trial.
Melendez-Diaz may have defined the outer limit of the Supreme Court’s Sixth Amendment jurisprudence. Consider these later cases:
• Michigan v. Bryant. In this case, the Court held that the Confrontation Clause does not bar the admission of the statement of an unavailable witness if it falls within a traditional hearsay exception or if it otherwise reaches a level of particular trustworthiness. The witness was the victim of a shooting who identified his attacker to the police as he lay dying. The Court said that this exception would allow the introduction of such a statement to the police when they were responding to an ongoing emergency. The Court found that if the purpose of the statement was not to create a record for trial, it would fall outside of the scope of the Confrontation Clause.
• Bullcoming v. New Mexico. At the trial of this DUI case, the prosecution called an analyst who was not the person who actually performed the lab test. The Supreme Court held that this violated the defendant’s rights under the Confrontation Clause because the lab report was clearly testimonial in nature. The substituted witness could only testify generally about the lab’s normal procedures but could not testify about any observations of possible inconsistencies that may have occurred during the test. Thus it was not possible for the defense to develop what could have been exculpatory evidence.
• Williams v. Illinois. The prior decisions of the U.S. Supreme Court do not clearly pave the way for its 2012 decision in Williams v. Illinois. In this case, the prosecution called an expert witness from the state’s forensic division to testify that a DNA sample taken from a rape victim matched one from the defendant generated earlier by an outside lab. The technician who had actually performed the testing at the outside lab was not called as a witness, and the lab report was not admitted into evidence. In a plurality decision, the Supreme Court agreed that the defendant’s Confrontation Clause rights had not been violated, but a strong dissent was also written in the case. Justice Alito, writing for the plurality, upheld the defendant’s conviction. He found that, under both Illinois and federal rules of evidence, an expert is permitted to testify as to her opinion based on the underlying facts even though she has no first-hand knowledge of these facts. Although the outside lab report could not be admitted into evidence for its truth without the lab technician’s testimony, he noted that the Court’s decision in Crawford v. Washington had specifically stated that the Confrontation Clause does not bar the use of testimonial statements for purposes other than to prove the truth of the matter asserted. The Court held that, here, the Sixth Amendment protection was not triggered because the expert’s answers assumed the facts in the report to be true and represented her opinion based upon that assumption. The Court also emphasized that, because the lab report was not prepared at a time when the defendant was a suspect of any crime, this contributed to its neutrality when compared with lab reports that are prepared specifically to be used in evidence against a known defendant. The dissent disagreed, stating that there was no principled way to distinguish the facts of this case from those in Bullcoming or Melendez-Diaz. Since the match between the DNA samples was a vital piece of evidence in the conviction of this defendant, the dissent insisted that the technician who prepared the report had to be present at trial before that evidence could come in. It is noteworthy that the defendant was tried in a bench trial, and the plurality opinion concedes that, had it been a jury trial, “[a]bsent an evaluation of the risk of juror confusion and careful jury instructions, the testimony could not have gone to the jury.”
It’s a lot for a layman to consider! Especially with your future on the line. Bear in mind that your Boone Beale Fairfax VA DUI Defense Attorney is not only is aware of all this (and much more), but our principal attorney actually wrote the book!
So, yes you do need a Fairfax VA DUI lawyer to help with your DUI charge. Contact Boone Beale today for a FREE consultation and let us help you win your DUI case with a superb DUI Defense in Fairfax VA.