The American legal system is such that it provides those accused of crimes the right to confront witnesses. This is done so that the defendant can expose any lack of credibility with a witness that may exist, as this does happen from time to time. As such, many witnesses in criminal matters undergo exhausting cross-examinations by defense attorneys who are attempting to expose any lack of credibility that the court or the jury should consider. This is how things work in Arizona DUI matters as well, as police officers are almost always witnesses in cases that go to trial.
Unfortunately for many defendants facing Arizona DUI prosecutions, an ongoing investigation into some alleged conduct by a police officer who spent his time investigating and pursuing DUI cases could prove to have an effect on several cases. What’s perhaps more important is the effect it could have had on cases that have already been completed. Basically, an officer is being investigated for a crime that would affect his credibility as a witness if it turns out to be an accurate allegation, but defense attorneys are upset that they were not made aware of it.
Specifically, a Phoenix police officer is being targeted in an investigation that involves allegations that he burned out his pickup truck and then claimed it was stolen so that he could recover $14,000 in insurance damages. He has not been arrested and nothing has been proven, and as of now the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office is reviewing criminal-fraud charges submitted by Phoenix investigators. No word was given as to where the matter could go from this point.
Almost regardless of where that issue stands now, defense attorneys are not happy that the failure by prosecutors to disclose this information about the officer prevents Arizona DUI defense lawyers from challenging his credibility. Given that lack of awareness, some are stating that they advised clients to take plea deals when they would not have otherwise had they had the opportunity to expose this potential lack of credibility with the investigating and in many cases arresting officer.
The prosecutor’s office is also refusing to comment publicly about this matter because it’s still an ongoing investigation. However, the officer at the center of all of this turmoil is still working, albeit in an administrative role. He is not actively investigating DUI allegations and is basically filling an internal role until all of this is worked out one way or the other. In the meantime, some of the Arizona DUI defense attorneys involved in these matters are considering different legal challenges.
Witness testimony is powerful evidence in any trial, especially if that testimony comes from a police officer, as most people will assume that a police officer is credible and honest. The ability to challenge someone whose credibility may be at question is critically important for any defendant. If you or someone you love has been arrested on suspicion of DUI in Arizona, contact the Law Offices of Douglas A. Schwab today to schedule a free initial consultation.