Many people want nothing to do with the trial phase of driving while intoxicated (DWI) case, but there are also many others who are adamant about the wrongfulness of their arrest and very much want to get their stories before a jury of their peers. A DWI Trial attorney needs to take both of these considerations into account while working to find the right kind of deal for their client.
You should know that most prosecutors want to keep DWI cases away from the trial because trials are time-consuming and force prosecutors to use valuable resources that would be better allocated elsewhere. Still, a criminal case is not always like a civil case in which a settlement seems likely because there can typically be a major difference in the desired outcomes between the two sides in a DWI case.
It is important to hire a criminal defense lawyer who has extensive trial experience and who will show you their DWI case history. Only previous accomplishments can show you how likely your attorney will succeed in your case. The attorneys at the Law Offices of Richard C. McConathy have represented thousands of DWI cases, many of which were dismissed prior to trial or resulted in a not-guilty verdict at trial.
DWI Trial Lawyer in Fort Worth, Arlington, Grapevine, Keller, Southlake, TX
If you have been arrested for a DWI in Fort Worth, or any of the surrounding areas in Texas, including Arlington, Azle, Bedford, Benbrook, Blue Mound, Burleson, Colleyville, Crowley, Dalworthington Gardens, Edgecliff Village, Euless, Everman, Flower Mound, Forest Hill, Grand Prairie, Grapevine, Haltom City, Haslet, Hurst, Keller, Kennedale, Lakeside, Lake Worth, Mansfield, Newark, North Richland Hills, Pantego, Pelican Bay, Reno, Richland Hills, River Oaks, Saginaw, Sansom Park, Southlake, Trophy Club, Watauga, Westlake, Westover Hills, Westworth Village, and White Settlement, contact the Law Offices of Richard C. McConathy.
Attorney Richard McConathy will help you through all crucial phases of the DWI trial process and make every effort to fight the allegations against you. Call the Law Offices of Richard C. McConathy at (817) 422-5350 about your DWI charges.
Filing and Processing of DWI Cases in Tarrant County
Misdemeanor DWI Cases – These types of cases are filed by the arresting law enforcement officer with the District Attorney’s (DA) Office. If the DA decides to prosecute the case, a document called information is created. The information is a written statement filed and presented on behalf of Texas by the DA that charges the defendant with an offense. The information provides the defendant with notice that he has been formally charged with an offense. Once the information has been processed, a file is generated and the case is randomly assigned to one of the 11 misdemeanor courts in Dallas.
Felony DWI Cases – These types of cases are also filed by the arresting law enforcement agency with the DA’s Office. If the grand jury decides there is enough evidence to charge the defendant with the crime, the DA’s office will create a charging instrument called an indictment. An indictment is a written statement from the grand jury formally accusing the person named of some offense. The grand jury is a panel of citizens who are selected to review criminal complaints provided by the police and then make a determination on whether there is sufficient evidence to believe that an offense has occurred and to issue an indictment.
The indictment puts the defendant on notice that charges are being formally brought against them. Once the alleged offender has been arrested for a felony offense, the grand jury will hear all evidence in the case to determine if the alleged offender should formally be charged.
If the grand jury decides to true bill the alleged offender, the grand jury has found enough evidence to believe the offense occurred and will issue an indictment to charge the defendant with the offense. If the grand jury decides to no bill the alleged offender, the individual will not be charged with a crime because the grand jury did not believe there was enough evidence to proceed with the case. Once the individual has been formally charged with a felony DWI offense, their case will be assigned to one of the 7 felony courts in Dallas County.
Fort Worth Pretrial Appearances and Hearings
Initial Appearance and Arraignment – At your initial appearance and arraignment, which will occur after you have been arrested, the judge will determine if there is probable cause to further detain the defendant. If there is probable cause, the judge will also identify the defendant’s lawyer, inform the defendant of their right to waive indictment, and set bail. The defendant will then be formally arraigned and may enter a guilty plea or reschedule for the next appearance.
Appearances – If you are then released on bail or bond from jail before your hearing date, you will receive notice in the mail from the court where you are to appear and the date and time of any other appearances. You must appear in court on the date and time you were instructed or else your bond will be forfeited and a warrant will be issued for your arrest. Bond forfeiture means you will lose the money you posted as a guarantee you would appear on your hearing date.
Pre-trial Negotiations – At any other settings prior to motion hearings or trial settings, your attorney and the state prosecutor, often the assistant district attorney, will have an opportunity to discuss the case for the purpose of pretrial negotiations. They will determine if there are immediate reasons for the case to be dismissed, for a speedy trial or to enter a plea deal. A plea deal is a resolution of the case where both the state prosecutor and defendant agree to a certain punishment without involving a judge or a jury. The case may be reset, postponed, or rescheduled or a continuance may be requested on numerous occasions.
Plea Setting – A defendant’s case will have a plea setting if they choose not to have a jury trial or a bench trial. A bench trial is a trial without a jury. In these plea settings, they will enter a plea of guilty or a plea of nolo contendere, or no contest, to the charges against them. They may then accept the plea bargain offered by the state or may enter an open plea. An open plea is where the defendant rejects the plea bargain and requests the judge or jury to set the punishment.
After all appearances and hearings have been made, the case will be set for trial if the defendant has not entered a guilty plea or plea of no contest. Typically, once a case is set for trial, any previous plea bargain offers are considered rejected and probably won’t be offered again.
Texas DWI Pretrial Motions
Prior to a trial, the court will have a setting to hear all pre-trial motions. Your DWI attorney can file motions showing why the case should be dismissed or motions to suppress certain evidence. Some of the most common pretrial motions may include:
- Motion to Dismiss for Lack of Probable Cause
- Motion to Exclude the Defendant’s Confession
- Motion to Suppress Illegally Obtained Evidence
- Motion to Exclude an Uncredible Witnesses’ Testimony
- Motion to Strike Prior DWI Convictions
DWI Trial in Fort Worth
Once the defendant has decided to plead not guilty and all other hearings and appearances have been made, the case will be set for trial. The defendant can choose to have a trial before a jury or a judge. At the trial, the state prosecutor is required to prove the DWI defendant is guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. This is the highest burden of proof, and every element of the offense must be satisfied.
If the defendant chooses a jury trial, six jurors will hear the evidence presented at trial in a misdemeanor case. If the case is a felony DWI, the jury panel will consist of 12 members. The jury members are selected through a process called voir dire.
Once the jurors have been selected, the guilt/innocence phase will begin. This phase of the trial is where all evidence is presented and witnesses are called to testify. In order to convict a defendant, all jurors must unanimously agree to the guilty verdict. If they do not, the jury is called a hung jury and the judge must declare a mistrial. The case will then later be retried if the prosecutor determines another jury will be able to make a decision on the case.
If the defendant is found guilty, the punishment phase will begin to determine the defendant’s punishment. The defendant can choose whether the judge or jury will set their punishment in a jury trial.
If the defendant chooses a bench trial, the judge determines the guilt or innocence of the defendant and sets the punishment. Additionally, the defendant waives any error in the case upon appeal.
Tarrant County Resources for DWI Trial
Texas Code of Criminal Procedure – This link is to Chapter 21 of the Texas Code of Criminal Procedure, which defines an indictment and information, how they are to be presented and the types of cases they apply to.
Texas Code of Criminal Procedure – Trial – This links to Chapter 36 of the Texas Code of Criminal Procedure, which defines all elements of a trial before a jury, including the order of the trial, witnesses, arguments by the prosecutor and defense attorney, and jury deliberations.
Texas Penal Code – General Defenses – This link is to Chapter 8 of the Texas Penal Code, which defines many general statutory defenses to criminal charges, including the mistake of law, mistake of fact, insanity, duress, and entrapment.
Find A Tarrant County Defense Attorney for DUI Trial | Law Offices of Richard C. McConathy
Contact the Law Offices of Richard C. McConathy today for a consultation about your arrest for DWI in Tarrant County in Texas. Richard McConathy is an experienced DWI trial attorney in Dallas who will make every effort to find applicable defenses in your particular case to have your charge reduced or even dismissed.
Contact the Law Offices of Richard C. McConathy right now at (817) 422-5350 for a consultation about your DUI arrest throughout Tarrant County in Texas and the surrounding counties of Denton County, Wise County, Kaufman County, Dallas County, Grayson County, Rockwall County, Johnson County, Ellis County, Collin County, and Parker County.
DWI is a criminal offense that says a person may not drive a motor vehicle in a public place while “intoxicated.” The DWI statute does not say driving while drunk or “drunk driving.”
The legal definition of intoxication in Texas is:
- Having an alcohol concentration of 0.08 or more
- Not having the normal use of physical faculties by reason of the introduction of alcohol, a controlled substance, a drug, a dangerous drug, a combination of two or more of those substances, or any other substances into the body.
- Not having the normal use of mental faculties by reason of the introduction of alcohol, a controlled substance, a drug, a dangerous drug, a combination of two or more of those substances, or any other substances into the body
The State only needs to prove one of the three ways beyond a reasonable doubt in order to obtain a conviction.
According to the law, the definition of the word normal is the average person. The problem is how do we determine the average person? The law is vague in this subject, which lends itself for good argument to a jury that everyone is different and each has his own normal.
“Alcohol concentration” is defined by statute as:
a. the number of grams of alcohol per 100 milliliters of blood;
b. the number of grams of alcohol per 210 liters of breath; or
c. the number of grams of alcohol per 67 milliliters of urine.
A 0.02 equals one drink. A drink is 1-¼ ounces of liquor, 1 12oz beer, or 1 glass of wine. It takes one hour for the body to burn off a 0.02 down to a 0.00. Thus, to reach a 0.08 a person must consume four drinks in one hour.
Under criminal law, you are not required to perform any type of test or answer any questions to the police officer. You have the right to refuse any tests and request an attorney. However, if you refuse to attempt these tests, the officer most likely is going to arrest you.
Further, the civil law, which your driver’s license falls under, does not protect you. In fact, when you applied for your driver’s license you unknowingly consented to any future tests, if to which you refused you would lose your driver’s license for a period of six months. The decision is yours and there is a civil risk (your license), but you do have rights, and should not waive them. Always request your lawyer and don’t cooperate with anything if you wish to exercise your rights.
No. However, although a person has no right to refuse being videotaped, he does have the right to refuse to perform any police field sobriety exercises and to refuse to answer any questions, the answers to which, might be incriminating. Unlike breath or blood test refusals, there are no penalties for refusing to perform field sobriety tests or refusing to answer questions while being videotaped.
If performed in a controlled environment in the exact proscribed standardized manner, the tests can be a likely indicator of intoxication. This is hardly done in the street.
The research conducted by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the designers of the tests, concluded the Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus is 77% accurate, the Walk & Turn is 68% accurate, and the One Leg Stand is 65% accurate only when administered in the prescribed, standardized manner. Any change from the standardized manner will compromise the tests validity and make any result inaccurate. When not conducted properly it becomes an opinion test of the officer.
Therefore, these tests will inaccurately claim 23% – 35% of the people tested as intoxicated. Which when done incorrectly, which is the norm, can drop the accuracy to a frightening level.
Even SOBER persons can have difficulty with these tests, as stated by The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. The reason is as the NHTSA has admitted, are several factors that affect every person, such as:
- Being ill
- The distraction of traffic
- The police car’s strobe lights
- Lack of coordination
- Gusts of wind
- Road or sidewalk conditions
- Head lights of traffic
- Weather conditions
- Being nervousness
- Back problems
- Leg or knee problems
- Inner ear disorders
The State of Texas must prove your guilt “beyond a reasonable doubt”, which is the highest burden of proof in the justice system. It is not defined, by Texas law, but can be easily explained to a jury.
The lowest burden of proof is probable cause. That is how an officer can start an arrest.
The next highest burden of proof is preponderance of the evidence. This is the amount of proof needed in civil courtrooms involving civil suites. A preponderance of the evidence is proof amounting to 51% or who can move the scales of justice.
The next highest burden of proof is clear and convincing evidence. This is amount of proof that will cause a juror or judge to have a “firm belief” in the matter to be proved. This is used in custody cases. Most juries when they hear that the burden of proof is higher than that to take their kids away from them understand the high level of proof.
Beyond a Reasonable Doubt is the highest burden of proof. A jury must have more than that necessary to take your kids away in evidence that you were intoxicated before they could find you guilty. This is very simple, if a juror has a single doubt, based on reason, as to a person being intoxicated, they must follow the law and find them not guilty.
Texas law does not give you the right to speak with an attorney prior to making the decision of whether or not to take the field sobriety tests, the breath test or blood test. However, the law does not require you to perform any field sobriety tests or to take a blood or breath test so continue to ask for an attorney and refuse to cooperate and the likely chances of being found NOT GUILTY can increase!