Can I be denied the officer’s official statement for which I am being charged?

And if that statement is not correct from the beginning, can I still be given the same punishment?

Asked on September 17, 2012 under Criminal Law, California


B.H.F., Member, Texas State Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 8 years ago | Contributor

Each state has slightly different discovery rules, but California does have some fairly strait forward requirements that include the disclosure of any written reports by a witness.  So, if the officer is going to be a witness against you, then yes they have to give you the statement.  You just need to make a written motion for it.  You may also be able to get a copy by filing an open records request through the officer's agency. 

If there is an incorrect statement in the report, then it may or may not affect punishment.  If the statement is material, then it could result in the case being thrown out and you receiving no punishment.  An example of a material statement is mis-stating the basis for a traffic stop that in actuality is not a legitimate basis for a traffic stop.  If the statement is merely a misunderstanding of facts and not material, then it probably will not result in a lower punishment.  An example would be if the officer writes in his report that he saw a "drunk driver weaving on the road," but after pulling the driver over, he learning that "texting" not drinking, was responsible for the poor driving-- the case wouldn't be thrown out because the assessment (though eventually proven to be incorrect) was still reasonable.

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