Imagine spending 11 years in prison because a police officer lied and said you were driving under the influence.
It’s a nightmare scenario that happened to a man named Revat Vara. According to a USA Today Network investigation, Vara was pulled over for missing a front license plate. He was arrested for DUI after a Houston police officer gave him a sobriety test. Although he said he was completely sober, a jury believed the officer. He received a 25-year prison sentence because he had prior offenses.
The jury never heard about the officer’s history of misconduct. The cop was investigated for manipulating drunk driving arrests so he could be called to testify and receive overtime pay. He was found guilty of misconduct 35 times.
Supreme Court ruling protects the accused
The USA Today investigation examined how prosecutors across the country apply a 1963 Supreme Court ruling known as Brady v. Maryland.
The court ruled that prosecutors must disclose evidence that might help the defense of people accused of crimes. That means juries in a trial must hear details about police misconduct relevant to the accused’s case. This might include:
- Officers who committed crimes
- Cops who told lies on the job
- Officers whose honesty had been called into question
As part of the investigation, reporters spent over a year gathering “Brady lists” from police and prosecutors to determine compliance. The lists are tools for prosecutors to identify police officers with credibility problems because of their past conduct.
The USA Today investigation found, among other conclusions:
- Thousands of people were sentenced to jail in part based on testimony from officers with credibility problems.
- Hundreds of prosecutors across the nation have not taken steps to comply with the Brady ruling.
- Some police and prosecutors have refused to allow the public to see their Brady lists, which means it’s impossible to determine if they are complying with the law.
The problem of police misconduct appears to be getting worse. Cases of wrongful conviction because of misconduct by police have more than doubled between 2008-2018, according to the National Registry of Exonerations
What to do if you're arrested for a DUI
Any criminal charge – including DUI – can have serious consequences. An arrest can result in fines and a jail or prison sentence. You may lose your job and have to answer to the charge for the rest of your life.
With so much at stake, you need an experienced criminal defense attorney on your side if you’ve been charged. Attorney Matt Bodman works aggressively for clients to reveal the truth. He knows it’s an absolute miscarriage of justice to be charged based on a police officer’s lies or misconduct. If you suspect the police officer has a history of misconduct or told lies in your case, you need Attorney Bodman on your side. Contact Matt Bodman, P.A today for a consultation.