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Houston Felony DWI Attorney

Doug Murphy's Approach to Defending Felony DWIs in Texas

A felony DWI is not an ordinary DWI. It is an offense that could have more than the consequence of prison time and high fines. It could affect your entire life, from your job to your studies to your family. Under no circumstances do you want to let a felony DWI case happen without a fight. Doug Murphy is a Board-certified DWI and Board-certified criminal defense lawyer in the Houston area who never represents a client without putting up a fight, and he is here to take on your fight, too, if that means keeping you out of jail and maintaining your professional, academic, and social reputation. Doug is only one of two lawyers in Texas who are board-certified in DWI Defense and Criminal Law. Experience and expertise matter.

With Doug Murphy, you hire an attorney who always prepares each case with the intent to go to trial. Some may not understand the importance of this distinction from other DWI lawyers who prefer to settle and rarely see the inside of a courtroom, but the difference is real and tangible: the protection of your life, your freedom, and your rights. With those attorneys who prefer to never see inside a courtroom, sure, you might get a plea agreement—possibly—but you will likely never have the opportunity to have charges against you dismissed before trial even happens or acquittal should trial take place. Having an attorney like Doug Murphy who has a reputation built on his trial experience can benefit you and your case greatly. And when it's a felony DWI, you need the best, most aggressive defense you can get.

Felony DWIs in Texas

There are four different felony DWIs with which you could be charged in Texas: (1) third DWI; (2) DWI with Child Passenger; (3) Intoxication Assault; and (4) Intoxication Manslaughter.

Third or Subsequent DWI

If you have two prior DWI convictions, then your third and any subsequent DWIs in Texas qualify as felony DWIs. Many years ago, it used to be in Texas that if your prior DWI conviction happened ten years ago, then any new DWI conviction would be treated as though it was your first. That changed, and now, any prior DWIs will be counted as prior DWIs regardless of how long ago they occurred. Once you reach your third DWI, you are no longer looking at a misdemeanor, but a third-degree felony that carries with it—if convicted—a jail range of 2 to 10 years in the Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ).

If, however, it is your third or more DWI with one prior TDCJ penitentiary trip, then you can be punished with a second-degree felony, doubling the amount of time you spend in jail upon a conviction (jail range of 2 to 20 years). If it is your third or more DWI with 2 prior TDCJ penitentiary trips, then your charge will be an enhanced felony that increases your jail range exponentially to 25 years to life in prison upon conviction.

Your primary defense is that you were not intoxicated, but in lieu of that defense, an experienced DWI attorney will prepare for trial by filing motions to suppress any evidence based on constitutional challenges and/or challenges to sobriety, blood, or breath tests, whichever is applicable.

DWI with Child Passenger

Being charged with a DWI with a passenger under 15 years old in the car with you is a felony in Texas. Regardless of whether the charge is your first offense or your fifth offense, it will be a state jail felony offense that carries with it 6 months to 2 years in jail. Your primary defense—again—is that you were not intoxicated, and accompanying that defense will be any applicable constitutional challenges and challenges to sobriety, blood, or breath tests, whichever are applicable.

Intoxication Assault

Known as an extreme DWI, intoxication assault is a third-degree felony DWI offense elevated to an intoxication assault charge because of the defendant "by accident or mistake...and by reason of...intoxication causes serious bodily injury to another." No prior convictions are necessary. If convicted, you could face 2 to 10 years in prison. Possible defenses include: (1) you were not actually intoxicated illegally; (2) the injury sustained from the accident does not fit into the legal category of "serious bodily injury;" and (3) even though you may have been intoxicated, your intoxication did not cause the injury or accident; another factor caused the accident. Constitutional challenges and challenges to any sobriety, blood, or breath test may be worked into your defense strategy as appropriate.

Intoxication Manslaughter

Also known as an extreme DWI, intoxication manslaughter is a second-degree felony DWI offense elevated to an intoxication manslaughter charge because you were involved in and suspected of causing an accident that resulted in the death of another person, whether it was a passenger in your vehicle or a driver or passenger of another vehicle, or a pedestrian, or a bicyclist. No prior convictions are necessary. If convicted, you could face 2 to 10 years in prison. Possible defenses include: (1) you were not actually intoxicated illegally; and/or (2) even though you may have been intoxicated, your intoxication did not cause the accident or resulting death; another factor caused the accident. Depending on the facts of your case, constitutional challenges, and challenges to any sobriety, blood, or breath test may be worked into your defense strategy as appropriate.

These charges are all serious charges, and Doug Murphy does not shy away from using any and all the tools available to him. What is sometimes more important than the "tools," however, is the strategy that incorporates those tools. Doug Murphy is thoughtful and tactful. His experience of two decades has propelled him into the unique position to teach other DWI and criminal defense attorneys in Texas and beyond how to best help their clients, too. He is not someone who talks the talk; he walks the walk, regardless of how difficult the path may be.

Defense Strategies for Felony DWI Cases

There are many ways to defend a felony DWI case, each of which depends on the circumstances of your arrest. You have the right to fight against these charges regardless of whether you are innocent of the charges or if you believe you were treated unfairly by law enforcement.

Establishing Reasonable Doubt

One of the most straightforward defenses to a felony DWI is to simply hold the prosecution to its burden of proof. After all, it has the duty to demonstrate—with proof beyond a reasonable doubt—that you broke the law. If you were not intoxicated at the time of your arrest, your strongest case could simply be to show the state doesn't have the evidence to prove that you are guilty. This could involve disputing the evidence they provide or simply arguing that even assuming all of their evidence is true, it is not enough to show you were intoxicated.

Challenging the Test

Many DWI cases—misdemeanor and felony alike—revolve around challenges to the accuracy of the blood, breath, or urine test. These tests are intended to measure your blood alcohol concentration (BAC), but if they are not performed properly, the results could be inaccurate.

Challenges to a test could involve how the sample was obtained. For instance, a breath sample that was taken without the required waiting period beforehand could result in a false positive. For blood tests, samples that do not have a proper chain of custody from collection to the lab and back to the prosecutor could be inadmissible. A motion to suppress the test results could be successful under any of these (and more) circumstances.

Challenging the Traffic Stop

The vast majority of Texas DWI arrests involve a traffic stop. When these traffic stops violate your constitutional rights, your defense attorney can have any evidence collected against you excluded from your trial. This can include any statements you made, any observations the officers recollect following the stop, and even the results of any chemical testing you submitted to.

Most challenges to traffic stops revolve around whether or not the officer had reasonable suspicion at the time. Reasonable suspicion is a set of specific facts that lead an officer to believe a crime has been committed or is about to be committed. For DWI cases, this generally involves traffic violations committed in the presence of a law enforcement officer. Anything from a failure to use a turn signal to speeding could be used as reasonable suspicion to stop you. If an officer pulls you over for no reason, your attorney can exclude any evidence resulting from that stop.

Reducing the Charges

In limited circumstances, it is possible that you could be wrongfully charged with a felony DWI. It is possible that the prosecution could make an error when calculating your number of prior DWI convictions, especially when these convictions occurred out of state. Some states have alcohol-related charges that are not technically DWI convictions. A Board Certified specialist in DWI defense can fight the use of the latter convictions as the basis for your felony charge.

Consequences of a Felony DWI

In the descriptions of each felony DWI, the range of jail time is already provided. In addition to jail, you could face fines up to $10,000 for any of these offenses and license suspension starting at 90 days for a state jail felony DWI to up to 2 years for any of the other felony DWIs. Imagine life without a vehicle for 2 years! Of course, there is the potential for an ignition interlock device (IID), but even with an IID, you will likely be restricted on where and when you can drive.

The worst part about a felony, however, is the socio-economic consequences that happen outside the court. If convicted of a felony DWI, it has the potential to affect your career, especially when applying for jobs or if you require a professional license (e.g., pilot, medical, or nursing) or security clearance. Most employers do not want to hire an ex-convict for liability and trust reasons, and most professional licenses and/or security clearances will be stripped upon a DWI conviction. On the other hand, if you were intending to apply for either a professional license or security clearance, forget about it for the time being—in some cases, you may be able to apply within a year or so, but in other cases, you may never get the opportunity to apply.

Furthermore, if you were intending to attend higher education, your admissions may be at stake, and you may no longer qualify for federal student loans. Housing, if you rent, can also become a problem, because many nicer places today check backgrounds and deny applications to anyone with a criminal record. Additionally, if you are in the middle of a custody battle or divorce, your felony can affect when or if you are able to see your children. And if you are a gun owner, your right to bear arms will be taken from you.

The consequences of a felony DWI are serious and life-altering. If you value both your life and your freedom, you can't risk settling for a plea agreement, you need to fight the charge altogether. That means having your day in court. And there is one attorney whose reputation is defined by his success at DWI trial: Doug Murphy.

How Can Doug Murphy Defend Against My Felony DWI in Texas?

While 90 percent of criminal defense lawyers settle by plea bargain, Doug Murphy is not one of them. He values your time, your freedom, and your rights, and he is willing to put in the effort to make sure your rights are upheld in a court of law.

Doug Murphy is known to go to trial in DWI matters, and he is known to win his cases. He is fearless and will challenge any DWI charge before a judge and jury with strategy and skill. When most other attorneys prefer not to enter a courtroom, Doug Murphy almost always anticipates it, and he will prepare your case from the moment you hire him as though it were going to trial. The state knows when they see Doug Murphy's name as the attorney that they can anticipate an uphill battle when arguing their case against you.

Dough Murphy has your best interests in mind, rather than the interests of expediency that so many other criminal defense attorneys prefer.

Contact a Houston, Texas Felony DWI Defense Lawyer

Attorney Doug Murphy is a Board Certified criminal defense lawyer and a Board-certified DWI lawyer who fights on behalf of his clients and gives back to the legal community by teaching other attorneys how to do the same. Contact Doug Murphy online or at 713-229-8333 today to discuss the circumstances of your case.

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