In criminal cases that rely heavily on a police officer’s testimony the honesty and credibility of the officer is highly important. After all if the fate of a defendant rests in the hands of the testimony of an officer it is crucial that the officer is honest in order to ensure that justice is served. However if an officer has been dishonest in the past the question then becomes if that information must be disclosed to the defendant? Unfortunately there is not an easy answer to this question, as with most questions regarding legal issue the answer most simply is it depends.
The authority regarding this issue basically says if it is “material” then the dishonesty or misconduct must be disclosed. So now the question is what is “material”? Again it depends on a number of factors. Some of the factors that must be considered are:
- The amount of time that has elapsed since the misconduct
- How severe the misconduct is
- How much evidence is there against the officer
- Did the misconduct occur in a case similar to that of this defendant
- Is a defense going to be presented that relies on the officer’s dishonest/misconduct
- How much is the officer involved in the current case
- Is the officer’s misconduct stored in personnel records or in a less private source?
These factors are considered together and individually on a continuum. For example, if the amount of time since the misconduct is longer than the less likely it is to be material and the more severe the misconduct is the more likely is going to be considered material. It is a difficult question to answer and each case needs to be evaluated separately.
If you should find yourself in a situation where you have been charged with a DWI you need to contact an attorney who has the experience and knowledge necessary to handle your case with the care it deserves. For a private, confidential consultation with one of our experienced DWI lawyers, please call 704-499-9000 or toll-free 877-374-5999 even on weekends or holidays.