How Do You Decide Whether Or Not To Take A DWI Case To Trial In Texas?
Every DWI case in Texas is like a puzzle – it is different and unique all with a different set of facts, circumstances, and information to analyze. Deciding whether or not to take a case to trial should only be done after a very thorough and careful analysis. I personally believe that there are two different ways to approach mount a successful defense in a DWI case. One is a “legal” way, and the other would be in a “factual” manner. The first would be one based on a legal reason, such as something such as a defective search warrant, lack of reasonable suspicion to initiate a traffic stop is valid and conducted in the proper legal way, etc. The other method is an actual way, and would be simply arguing how due to the subjective standard of intoxication in Texas, the state cannot prove with sufficient evidence person was intoxicated under Texas law, in that it did not meet the legal standard of proof to be convinced of such “Beyond a Reasonable Doubt.”
The “legal” approach would be in analyzing certain issues, for example, related to the validity of the traffic stop, possible improper procedures when obtaining a search warrant, or whether there are certain issues that may prevent the District Attorney from proving certain vital “legal” elements that are needed in order to gain a conviction, including possibly not being able to prove “operation” of the motor vehicle (or commonly known as “wheeling” the driver, which is an essential element and must be proved in order to convict). A legal way would be contesting something, like a traffic stop or a search warrant. For example, I once got a .23 BAC level where blood was obtained, but my client refused to consent to give a voluntary specimen, and the police officer, either out of laziness or because he was not paying attention, he thought he had a valid search warrant when he obtained the specimen, but later realized when he got back to his patrol car that he did not have it in his possession during the time period of the blood draw, and it was time-stamped 15 minutes after the blood draw was conducted. He could have legally gone back inside and then drawn blood again based on the information he now had knowing for sure had a valid search warrant, but he chose to not do this and simply went to the jail, booked my client in, and went home to sleep.
A factual way to contest a charge of DWI in Texas, on the other hand, would be contesting that the person was legally intoxicated according to the law in Texas. Employing this method would be arguing how it is an ambiguous standard because the arrest decision is made purely and solely on the subjective opinion crime of the police officer, thereby contesting whether the individual accused was legally intoxicated. The standard for intoxication (or the law defining intoxication) in Texas is ambiguous, and an arrest is often simply based on a police officer’s subjective interpretation of that standard.
Many times, police officers have very limited information available when they make an arrest and are often trained to “make an arrest, and let the courts sort it out later.” DWI is one of the only subjective crimes in the penal code, the other being “public intoxication” – both involving the same element – “intoxication.” Simply put, you can contest the officer’s subjective determination that you were “intoxicated” when he made the decision to arrest. The arresting police officer only needs “probable cause” to arrest, which in our legal system, is a very low standard for them to promulgate their decision on – it is a much lower standard than what is used in court, by a Jury, which is whether the person was “Intoxicated” – “Beyond a Reasonable Doubt.” Sometimes it may be the situation where they may have enough evidence to justify probable cause for an arrest, but it is insufficient and not enough to support a finding to believe it can be proved with proof high enough to meet the lofty standard of “Beyond a Reasonable Doubt.” Beyond a reasonable doubt is the highest standard that we have in our entire criminal justice system and it is required for a conviction. You could, in theory, agree that the officer might have had probable cause to arrest someone for DWI, but also finds the evidence insufficient to prove it beyond a reasonable doubt. That would be a factual way of unraveling a DWI case in Texas, and it is always a possibility for holes to be poked with defenses that prove to be enough where the state is unable to prove all the elements of the commission of the crime to meet the highest standard we have in our country in our entire justice system. It is critical to have a firm understanding of all of the relevant DWI laws in Texas, and the prior proven experience in being able to relate to, and communicate with, juries – to achieve success in a DWI case.
A lot of times, whether or not a case goes to trial depends on the facts involved. Other times, it depends on the person or something we learned about a witness through investigating and working on the case. Countless times we have learned of police officer unavailability simply through the subpoena process for ALR hearings. It happens so often where the police officer may no longer work for the same department, found a different line of work, and sometimes when this occurs they will literally tell our process server how they will not appear at any proceeding for the case, regardless even if they are ordered with a court-issued subpoena to appear. There is certainly a myriad of reasons why a case should or should not be set for trial, but it is always based on information obtained and knowledge based on the evaluation of both the legal and factual scenarios pertinent and relevant that should help dictate which route is best to pursue.
If you want to lean about the DWI Defense click here.
Call For A Free Consultation