It is the obligation of the police to uphold and enforce the law. Unfortunately, some officers go beyond the scope of their duties in a manner that violates the rights of the suspects they are investigating. For example, it was recently revealed that a police officer in Phoenix was altering police reports to make it more difficult for criminal defendants to prepare their defenses. While the revelation does not impact cases pending in Illinois, it highlights issues in the criminal justice system that can make it difficult for defendants to obtain a fair trial. If you are charged with a DUI offense, it is in your best interest to engage a skilled Illinois DUI defense lawyer to help you fight to protect your rights.
Phoenix DUI Police Officer’s Tactics Called into Question
It is reported that the most senior DUI motorcycle officer on the Phoenix police force engaged in tactics designed to make it more difficult for defense attorneys to defend their clients. Specifically, the officer was caught on camera explaining that in every report issued in a DUI case, he lists any passengers in the suspect’s vehicle as a victim rather than a witness. While Arizona law allows defense attorneys to interview witnesses, it precludes them from interviewing victims.
In many instances, witnesses will be able to offer information indicating that the defendant was not driving erratically or otherwise lacked indications of impairment or reckless driving that would warrant a traffic stop. Thus, the officer manipulated the reports for the sole purpose of making it more difficult for defense attorneys to obtain information in support of their client’s defenses.
The Right to Interview Witnesses and Victims in Illinois DUI Cases
In Illinois, as in Arizona, defense attorneys have the right to interview witnesses in criminal matters. While a witness may choose not to speak to the DUI defendant’s lawyer, he or she is not precluded from doing so. While victims have many rights in Illinois, the law does not expressly bar defense attorneys from speaking with them.
Illinois law defines a victim as a person who suffered direct psychological or physical harm as a result of a violent crime or attempted crime against that person. Notably, the definition of victims also includes people harmed as a result of DUI crimes. Victims are generally required to cooperate with the prosecution and may be called to testify at trial. Thus, the mischaracterization of a witness as a victim could adversely impact a DUI defendant’s rights.
Speak to a Trusted Illinois DUI Attorney
While DUI defendants do not have to present evidence in their defense at trial, in some instances, it is prudent to offer witness testimony or other information that may establish they are not guilty. If you are accused of a DUI crime, it is smart to speak to an attorney to assess your options for seeking a just result. Theodore J. Harvatin, of the Harvatin Law Offices, PC, is a trusted Illinois DUI defense lawyer who can advise you of your rights and help you to seek the best legal outcome available under the facts of your case. You can contact Mr. Harvatin by calling 217.525.0520 or through the form online to set up a meeting.