A Pitchess Motion is a common pre-trial defense strategy used by many experienced DUI
defense attorneys. The desired effect of this motion is an order granting defense access to the
officer's personnel file. On the surface, the motion intended to find any history of abuse of
power, misconduct and other disciplinary actions that have been taken against an officer. If
such information exists, the defense will have "dirt" about the officer that will help the
defense to bring to question the weight that should be given to the officers testimony the jury.
The origin of the Pitchess motion starts with a prior California Supreme Court case, titled Pitchess v. Superior Court. So common and essential is this motion that the Pitchess process has been made part of California's Evidence Code. However, restricting defense counsel from freely foraging through the officer's file is the requirement that the information released from the file must be considered relevant the defense's case. Such items may include a history of racial bias, false arrest, falsifying evidence, harassment and discrimination or even the officer's own criminal conduct.
In a DUI case, information the defense hopes to discover would be allegations of previously filed false police reports by the arresting officer, improperly obtaining evidence, conducting himself in a manner so threatening that it has cause the defendant to feel compelled by force to cooperating with the officer's voluntary investigation. One very recent example where a Pitchess Motion would most definitely be in order is a case currently being uncovered in Northern California. This case deals with allegation that officers have falsified calibration records for a series of Alco Sensor breath testing devices. This information placed before a jury would not only lead to discrediting the officers testimony of a defendants guilt but may also lead to the exclusion of the results from the testing equipment which shows the defendant to be above a legal alcohol limit.
A Judge as part of the Pitchess Motion process will thoroughly review the relativity of the documents you seek access, while giving consideration to the rights of the officer to maintain his privacy will release what he determines to be the pertinent documents relative to your case. This process is not an easy one to succeed at and as such will typically requires an experienced criminal defense attorney to lead the way.
To be successful in the Pitchess process, an experienced criminal defense attorney will likely be necessary to maneuver through the minefield that consists of the prosecuting attorney, an attorney representing the officer and the judge.
If you are ready to go the distance in defending yourself against what you believe to be false allegations, call an experienced Southern California DUI Defense Attorney to lead you into battle.