Is there a video of my Atlanta DUI arrest?

Posted by Richard Lawson | Dec 01, 2013 | 0 Comments

The first thing my clients ask is when they can see the video of their Atlanta DUI arrest. The assumption is all police officers take videos of their cases but interestingly, most Atlanta Police officers do not have video.

However, the Atlanta DUI task force has video and the Georgia State Patrol (GSP) generally has video equipment in their patrol cars as well.

When your Atlanta DUI Attorney determines the existence of a video, most clients operate under the assumption that getting a copy is as easy as ordering a book online.  However, never forget we are dealing with the government, and the government never makes anything simple.

Georgia's criminal discovery law does not technically require the State to supply a video of a person's arrest.  However, Brady v. Maryland does require the government to provide defense counsel all exculpatory evidence, meaning any evidence that tends to show a person may be innocent.  That is basis for viewing the video of our client's arrest.

That being said, a reasonable person would certainly believe the prosecutor's office would simply make us a copy but in Atlanta, nothing could be further from the truth.

In GSP cases, the prosecutor or a judge must sign a video authorization letter in order to get a copy of the video.  The Solicitor General's Office (the prosecutor) will not sign off on releasing the video, as their position is to control the process by limiting the viewing of the video to one appointment at their office.  Of course this is inconvenient.  In addition because the video can only be viewed once,  it makes it less likely your DUI Attorney in Atlanta will find procedural errors.

However, some judges will sign the video order, thereby allowing a copy to be mailed to the attorney.  This is the most preferable outcome because videos should be viewed multiple times and in a setting where notes can be taken.

With Atlanta police officers, the prosecutor has complete control of the opportunity to view a video and there is no way to get a copy.  The only way to view the video is to make an appointment with a representative from the Solicitor's Office and even that simple process is made difficult because of bureaucratic obstacles that we face when dealing with a largely inefficient operation.

It is difficult for clients to understand, but it is not uncommon for the prosecutor to lose the video, miss appointments to view it, and even forget to order it. On some cases I have made multiple trips to view a video without success.  It would be so much easier just to order the videos from the police ourselves, but that takes away the prosecutor's control and for good reason: they see a tremendous advantage in limited defense access to the evidence in the case.

So, the moral of this story is to please stay patient and please understand this is exactly how the prosecutor's office has planned for things to "work."

About the Author

Richard Lawson

Managing Partner at Lawson & Berry:


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Georgia DUI Defense Attorneys

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