What if I was charged for a DWI in Texas but the case has not yet been filed?

Common Concerns over a Texas DWI Arrest

So, you were arrested for a DWI in Harris County, Texas, or another county outside the Houston metropolitan area or somewhere else in Texas. You rightly worry about what your arrest means and how it could affect you. You may be in the middle of a child custody dispute and are now frightened about losing your children. You may be looking for housing or employment and worried whether you can not rent an apartment or get a job. Or your career may require a security clearance or a professional license, like a teacher's certificate, pilot's license, medical license, or nursing license.

A DWI charge and potential conviction can negatively impact any of these things and many others. Whatever your concerns are, you now wait anxiously to hear about your court date.

Waiting for a Texas DWI Court Case

But after your DWI arrest, no news comes. You don't hear of a court date. Police don't come to your door, and you get no telephone call or mail from the police or the criminal court. All seems quiet on your DWI front. Is this strange silence just the calm before a storm? Are the police just nailing down the case against you? What does the silence of the authorities mean? Have prosecutors actually filed a DWI charge against you? Here is what you should know if you have been arrested for a DWI but you have no indication that prosecutors have filed a case against you yet. But don't just wait. Instead, call (713) 229-8333 or go online now to retain premier Texas DWI Specialist attorney Doug Murphy for the best possible outcome to your Texas DWI charge.

Texas DWI Arrest Versus Texas DWI Charges

DWI arrest and criminal charge are two separate stages, controlled by different public authorities. The police arrest you for a suspected DWI offense, but prosecutors file the actual DWI charges. Police are law enforcement officers. Prosecutors are lawyers and officers of the criminal court. Police and prosecutors have different roles, resources, and responsibilities. Consider these details of the two different procedures, arrest versus charges.

The Procedure of a Texas DWI Arrest

Police decided to arrest you on suspicion of a Texas DWI. They confiscated your driver's license in favor of a temporary license. They also arranged for removal of your vehicle. Police likely transported you to the station for booking. But arrest, vehicle impoundment, and booking don't yet mean that the prosecution has filed any criminal charges. Arrest isn't a criminal charge. Police make plenty of arrests that do not result in criminal charges. And booking isn't a criminal charge. Booking simply ensures that police have properly identified you in their administrative system. You may even have spent a few hours or a couple of nights in a police holding cell. But prosecutors still haven't criminally charged you with a DWI. Police will collect evidence and make records of your DWI arrest from which prosecutors may decide to charge. But the arrest isn't the charge.

The Procedure of a Texas DWI Charge

Prosecutors will review the police evidence and records of your DWI arrest. Prosecutors may exercise discretion whether and how to charge a DWI crime. Prosecutors may consider many factors on whether to charge the DWI crime for which police arrested you. If prosecutors decide to charge you with a DWI crime, then they draft a criminal complaint that alleges what you did that constitutes the DWI crime for which they are charging you. Prosecutors then file that criminal complaint in the criminal court. You will then receive notice to appear in court for your arraignment on the DWI charge. That notice to appear for arraignment is generally your first reliable indication that you now face a DWI charge. Police may have told you at your arrest that you'll face a DWI charge, but you don't face a DWI charge until prosecutors actually file it with the court.

Why a Harris County, TX DWI Case Can Take So Long

Prosecutors can have many reasons why they don't immediately file your DWI charge with the criminal court right after your DWI arrest. You won't necessarily know why. You and your retained DWI Specialist attorney may, though, be able to surmise why the prosecution appears to be delaying your DWI charge. And in some cases, your retained DWI Specialist attorney may be able to do something to help you head off a DWI charge.

Inadequate Admissible Evidence for a Texas DWI Charge

One reason why prosecutors may hesitate to file a criminal DWI charge against you is that they lack admissible evidence to support the DWI charge. As officers of the court, prosecutors are only supposed to file charges that they believe they can support with admissible evidence. The police may have believed that they had evidence that you committed a DWI crime, but the police may have been mistaken. The police may not have evidence that you operated a vehicle in a public place while intoxicated. Your blood test results may not have shown an alcohol level exceeding the legal limit. Or the police may have violated your constitutional rights, once again meaning that their DWI evidence is inadmissible. Your retained DWI Specialist attorney may be able to present information and accounts to the police or prosecution to highlight that they lack admissible evidence for a DWI charge.

Evidence Issues Delaying a DWI Charge

Another reason why prosecutors may be delaying in filing your criminal DWI charge involves problems with the police evidence. Police dashboard or body cameras may not support the police accounts of your arrest and intoxication. Police may have misplaced physical evidence, lost photographic or documentary evidence, or destroyed video evidence. Police may not have properly calibrated their testing equipment, meaning that their DWI evidence is inadmissible or unreliable. With regard to blood samples, when police send the sample to the lab for analysis, the lab may take weeks or months to return the official results. Or the lab may have lost, mishandled, or simply failed to process blood or other evidence. To support a case at trial, the prosecution must generally show a reliable chain of custody for the evidence. Failure to do so may result in acquittal on the charge. Your retained DWI Specialist attorney may be able to highlight to the prosecution that evidence problems and issues warrant abandoning any DWI charge.

Limited Resources for a DWI Charge

In other cases involving a delayed DWI charge, the prosecutor's office may face a backup of more-serious cases, for instance, cases involving intentional violence. And the prosecutor's office may have limited staff resources to process DWI cases. Many smaller Texas counties do not have a streamlined filing system. The District or County Attorney may take considerable time to determine whether to pursue DWI charges long after the DWI arrest. Some counties may take up to a year to decide whether to pursue a DWI case simply because of the limited resources in that county. In these cases, your retained DWI Specialist may find opportunities to urge prosecutors to spend their limited resources elsewhere because of exonerating or mitigating evidence in your case.

Further Investigation for a DWI or DWI-Related Charge

Another reason why prosecutors may be delaying your DWI charge is that the police need to complete further investigation. The police or prosecution may be waiting for the blood test results or for a retesting of samples after the initial results. Further investigation may be especially necessary if your DWI arrest involved injury to others. The police and prosecution may be waiting to confirm whether the injuries were serious enough for an intoxication assault charge. If a young person was in the vehicle, the prosecution may be waiting to confirm whether that person was under the age of fifteen for a child endangerment charge. Or police detectives may be attempting to get statements from persons who were or may have been eyewitnesses to a DWI crime. Once again, your retained DWI Specialist may find ways in which to share exonerating or mitigating evidence with the police and prosecutors investigating your DWI arrest.

How Long Can the State Wait to File a DWI Case?

You can see from the above that delay in your DWI charge may be working in your favor, or it could be working against you. Retaining a skilled and experienced DWI Specialist could make the difference in turning the delay in your favor. But the good news is that prosecutors cannot take forever to file a DWI charge. Texas, like other states, limits prosecutors in how much time they may take to file criminal DWI charges.

A statute of limitations applies to the filing of DWI charges. Other offenses like murder, sexual assault, or hit-and-run resulting in death have no statute of limitations. In those cases, prosecutors may file a case five, ten, fifteen, or more years later, if they have evidence to support a case. Other serious criminal charges like arson, sex trafficking, child exploitation, and robbery generally have longer limitations periods, like five, seven, or ten years, than in DWI cases. The statute of limitations for DWI cases is often shorter than these periods but varies according to the specific DWI charge.

The Limitations Period for Misdemeanor DWI Cases

Under Texas Code of Criminal Procedure Article 12.02, the statute of limitations for misdemeanor DWI cases is two years. Misdemeanor DWI cases include a first-time DWI, second-time DWI, or Class B or C misdemeanor DUI for a minor. Two years may be a long time to wait to find out if prosecutors are going to charge you with a DWI after your arrest. But sometimes, the best approach is to let a sleeping dog lie. Be careful not to press prosecutors to make a decision on your pending DWI matter. Don't force the hand of prosecutors who may prefer to sleep on your DWI charges.

The Limitations Period for Felony DWI Cases

Under the catch-all provision Texas Code of Criminal Procedure Article 12.01(8), in the felony DWI cases child endangerment and intoxication assault, the statute of limitations is three years. Intoxication manslaughter, though, has no statute of limitations. Prosecutors can file intoxication manslaughter charges at any time after the DWI arrest. Prosecutors generally take felony DWI cases seriously enough for the statute of limitations not to become an issue. Generally, prosecutors will charge a felony DWI within three years, if they're going to charge the DWI at all. But stranger things have happened. The statute of limitations may eventually bar your DWI charge, even a serious felony DWI charge.

What Happens If Prosecutors Do Not File a DWI Charge?

If prosecutors do not elect to charge you with a DWI, you are in the clear once the statute of limitations expires. Until the statute of limitations expires, the prosecution may take up your DWI matter and decide to charge. So, don't throw a party just because a few months have passed since your DWI arrest. Wait until the statute of limitations expires. And don't go out and get another DWI arrest while waiting for the statute of limitations to expire on your first DWI arrest. A second or subsequent arrest may spur prosecutors to file the former DWI charge. When the statute of limitations expires, you are free to live your life without the threat of prosecutors filing DWI charges against you.

Expunging DWI Arrest Records

Once the limitations period expires on your DWI arrest, you should remember that you still have a DWI arrest record. A DWI charge can be much more serious in causing collateral consequences, even if you avoid conviction or suffer conviction but avoid jail time. You can lose child custody, jobs, business or professional licenses, housing, security clearances, firearms licenses, and other rights and privileges over a DWI charge and conviction. But DWI arrest records can show up on background checks, too. And a DWI arrest record can also affect child custody, job prospects, and other things. Agencies, employers, and individuals conducting background checks may not even distinguish between a DWI arrest record and a DWI charge and conviction. You will want to have the arrest record expunged as soon as possible. Expungement, or expunction as Texas also calls it, of DWI arrest records can require waiting between 180 days and three years, depending on the circumstances of your DWI arrest.

When Should I Retain the Best Houston DWI Specialist?

Contact the best available DWI Specialist, Attorney Doug Murphy, immediately after your DWI arrest. Don't wait for prosecutors to file DWI charges. A skilled and experienced DWI Specialist attorney will investigate your DWI matter to provide you with sound advice and skilled representation for your best possible outcome, even while awaiting DWI charges.

Communicating with the Police and Prosecution

You should not be communicating on your own behalf with the police or prosecution. They will use anything you say against you. You have a constitutional right to remain silent. Invoke and stand on that right. Your retained DWI Specialist can communicate, negotiate, and advocate with the prosecutor on your behalf to convince the prosecutor not to file DWI charges. Doug Murphy knows how the police and the prosecutors operate. Doug Murphy knows the evidence and arguments that convince prosecutors to forgo DWI charges.

Getting Reassuring Updates and Sound Advice

DWI Specialist attorney Doug Murphy knows your worries over DWI charges. Doug Murphy knows that you will need periodic advice on your family, school, job, and other matters potentially affected by your DWI arrest. And Doug Murphy knows that his regular case updates can ease your worries and concerns over potential DWI charges. Rely on Doug Murphy's experience, resources, reputation, and insights throughout your DWI process. Doug Murphy can help you achieve your best possible DWI results to get on with your life.

Representation in the Event of a DWI Charge

Do not give up hope, even if your DWI arrest eventually results in a DWI charge. A charge is not by any means the same thing as a conviction. DWI Specialist attorney Doug Murphy may be able to do any or all of the following after your DWI charge to see you through the criminal process to your best outcome:

  • negotiate reasonable bail to get out and stay out of jail so that you can lead a normal life while contributing to your DWI defense;
  • enter an appropriate not-guilty plea at your arraignment;
  • seek early dismissal of the DWI charge at the preliminary examination;
  • invoke an Administrative License Revocation (ALR) hearing to preserve your driver's license;
  • plea bargain with the prosecutor for voluntary dismissal or charge reduction;
  • argue motions to suppress evidence for violation of your constitutional rights;
  • challenge field sobriety, breathalyzer, and blood tests;
  • retain expert witnesses on your behalf and identify and call lay witnesses;
  • cross-examine prosecution witnesses at trial;
  • obtain dismissal of the prosecution's case at trial for lack of proof; and
  • argue post-trial motions and appeals challenging errors in the proceedings.

Premier Texas DWI Specialist Available

Premier Houston DWI Specialist attorney Doug Murphy is available for your skilled representation while you await your DWI charge. Attorney Murphy is a recognized DWI expert who lectures nationwide on DWI defense. Attorney Murphy is one of only two Texas attorneys Board Certified in Criminal Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization and in DWI Defense by the National College for DUI Defense. Houston area lawyers voted attorney Murphy the 2021 and 2023 Best Lawyers in America Houston Lawyer of the Year for DWI Defense. Call (713) 229-8333 or go online now for skilled and experienced DWI defense representation.

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If you are facing DWI or other criminal charges in Texas, contact our office today to discuss your case, so we can begin working on your defense. Please provide only your personal email and cell phone number so that we can immediately and confidentially communicate with you.