Broward DUI Lawyer on the Confrontation Clause & DUI Issues
The Confrontation Clause is found in the Sixth Amendment of the United States Constitution and states as follows: “in all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right…to be confronted with the witnesses against him.” This right is applied to prosecutions by states through incorporation by the Fourteenth Amendment, says Fort Lauderdale DUI Lawyer William Moore.
Crawford v. Washington was a Confrontation Clause case decided by the Supreme Court of the United States in 2004. Michael Crawford stabbed a man, Kenneth Lee, over a dispute related to Lee’s alleged attempt to rape Sylvia Crawford, the wife of the defendant. Crawford claimed that at the time of the stabbing, he was under the impression that Lee had been armed and was thus acting in self-defense. Mrs. Crawford made conflicting statements to the police, first stating that she had not been present during the scuffle and later stating that she was present and Lee was unarmed. Her husband was charged in relation to the stabbing, says Broward DUI attorney William Moore.
At trial, the prosecution used a tape of Mrs. Crawford’s statement, over the objection of the defense. Mrs. Crawford could not be compelled to testify due to spousal privilege. Further, the defense contended that the defendant could not cross-examine Mrs. Crawford about her statement without the defendant being forced to waive the privilege. Crawford was convicted, but his conviction was overturned by the appellate court, then reinstated by the Washington Supreme Court. Ultimately, the U.S. Supreme Court heard the case. In a landmark decision, the Court held that where a witness would offer testimonial evidence, he or she must be made available for cross-examination by the defendant.
The Confrontation Clause does not, it would seem, apply to machines. This is an important distinction for DUI cases, notes Broward DUI Lawyer William Moore. Although the company that manufactures the breathalyzer machines used in Florida and other states has been ordered by several courts to release its source code — the computer programming that tells the machine how to calculate the breath alcohol in the sample produced by a suspect — the company has repeatedly refused to do so, citing in part a trade secret. However, a DUI defendant can still contest the accuracy of the machines, usually through the use of expert testimony regarding the reliability of the breathalyzer, its biases, and the margin of error inherent in the results produced. In fact, breathalyzer machine operators in the state of Florida must obtain two breath samples within 0.02 of one another in order to proceed with the breath.