How do I get dad and bodycam video from my son's traffic stop. Cop threw his flashlight throughmy son's windshield
2 attorney answers
Although there are several options available to you, I am only going to describe the one way that I think will be the easiest for you to achieve without representation. That said, if you want to ensure the best possible results for your child, you will want to hire an attorney who deals with criminal matters on a regular basis. My answer is limited to the information you provided in the question and does not describe every possible avenue to getting the video.
If your son can't afford an attorney and only received a Class C charge, then he will have to represent himself (for Class B or higher, an attorney would be appointed to him if he can't afford one). For Class C tickets, the court date is usually right on the citation. This “first appearance” is typically when a defense attorney would request the evidence against their clients, but in Texas, Pro Se Defendants (a.k.a., Defendants representing themselves) must go through a more burdensome process if they want to inspect the evidence against them. Please review the "Texas Code of Criminal Procedure Article 39.14(d)" which explains the discovery process for Pro Se Defendants. Essentially, you will request it from the State’s attorney at the first court appearance. If he refuses to provide it, alert the Judge. The Judge has a few options at that point: a) deny your request; b) set the matter for a hearing so both sides can argue their position; or c) the Judge may just order the State to allow you to inspect the evidence ASAP without a hearing. I would be surprised if the Judge denied your request, but if he or she does, then you will want to hire an attorney at that point to discuss your options.
Some things to keep in mind: 1. Do not be surprised if the evidence is unavailable at the time of your request. City/Municipal/"Justice of the Peace" Courts rarely have the evidence available to them prior to your request because it is rare that anyone requests discovery for Class C tickets. 2. Do not be surprised if the videos do not exist. Unfortunately, most police officers have manual control over their recording devices, and they oftentimes “forget” to turn it on during traffic violations. Also, these videos are typically saved to servers that only keep the videos for a certain amount of time (only 30 to 180 days in some circumstances). So an officer may have been recording, but the recording might be erased because the video wasn’t “tagged” for long-term storage. It’s not right, but it’s not uncommon either. 3. You attract more bees with honey. The prosecutor is going to know very little about your case at first, but if you are nice from the beginning, they may just give you what you want without much a fight. Or they may review the case and decide to dismiss it on their own after watching the video. This is very unlikely to happen if you enter the courtroom making a scene about how your son was wronged and demanding justice. Its ok to state your concern if you like (I wouldn’t though), but refrain from being hostile or combative with anyone until you know they are unwilling to help any further. There may be a time for that, but its not the first time you are meeting the prosecutor and the Judge.
To repeat myself, I believe that this is the easiest option available to you, but there are others. I recommend that you hire an attorney if you want to ensure the best results for your son.
Unless you are a licensed attorney, you are not entitled to anything. Your son or his attorney, however, can request discovery during the pretrial process. Have your son enter a plea of not guilty with the Court on the traffic offense, and the request for production can be made then. Calling an attorney would help. Good luck.