While Texas is well-known for its tough DWI laws, many in the Lone Star State are beginning to recognize that alcoholism is a disease that can be treated. There have never been more treatment options for substance abuse than there are currently, and thousands of Texans each year undertake an effort to improve their lives by overcoming the substance abuse issues.
But for some, the possibility of inpatient treatment only becomes a reality when they are facing the pressure of a DWI arrest. Many see a DWI arrest as a wake-up call and make arrangements to receive treatment as soon as they are released from jail. Others consider treatment with hopes that it may help their legal case.
But inpatient treatment undertaken immediately after an arrest can come into conflict with legal deadlines and court dates in your DWI case. It is understandable if this leads you to wonder if inpatient treatment will hurt your DWI case. While the short answer is no, it is worth noting that there are important factors to consider before entering into inpatient treatment with your DWI charge pending in a Houston court.
Below, we provide an overview of inpatient treatment for alcohol abuse, whether treatment helps or hurts your court case and some things to consider before you agree to enter the treatment facility. However, every case is different. To fully understand how inpatient treatment can affect your court case, contact an experienced Houston DWI lawyer for answers.
Doug Murphy has been the top Houston DWI defense attorney for years. His extensive experience with the Houston court system has led to a long list of successful outcomes in DWI cases in Harris County and the surrounding area. To get a better understanding of how inpatient treatment can affect your pending DWI charge, contact the Doug Murphy Law Firm, P.C. today to set up a free consultation.
What is Inpatient Treatment in Texas?
When it comes to substance abuse issues, inpatient treatment is the care of a patient that requires admission to a drug or alcohol treatment facility.
Public v. Private Treatment Facilities in Harris County
Treatment facilities vary, with some being privately owned and operated while others are funded by a state or local government.
- Private facilities often have a higher quality of care, but they are also far more expensive.
- Government facilities are typically created to target low-income residents or for those who lack health insurance.
In many cases, private health insurance will cover most or all of the costs of inpatient alcohol treatment.
Inpatient treatment involves a patient staying at the facility for the duration of the treatment. While some inpatient treatment is mandatory due to a court order, most cases are voluntary. Under voluntary treatment, a patient can leave the facility any time even without being formally discharged. While it is legal to leave treatment early, that doesn't mean there aren't consequences for it.
Inpatient v. Outpatient Treatment in Harris County
Inpatient treatment differs from outpatient treatment in that the patient stays at the facility for the duration of the treatment. For some, this can mean leaving home for weeks or even months. Outpatient, on the other hand, is more like a “day treatment.” While outpatients will receive the same substance abuse rehabilitation help, they will return home at the end of each day.
Typically, inpatient treatment is reserved for more serious cases.
Benefits of Inpatient Treatment in Texas
The effect on your court case aside, there can be benefits from attending inpatient drug or alcohol treatment. In addition to around-the-clock care, the environment at an inpatient treatment facility has benefits that outpatient treatment can't match. These benefits all play a role in your treatment. Here are just a few of the major benefits of inpatient treatment for substance abuse.
Limitation of Temptation
The obvious benefit to inpatient treatment is that it curbs temptation that the outside world can bring. While you are checked into inpatient treatment, you won't have the same access to alcohol that you would if you were on your own. It is easier to learn to manage cravings without the temptations of everyday life getting in the way.
Twenty-Four Hour Accountability
With outpatient treatment, you are essentially on your own when it comes to accountability after you leave treatment each day. But with inpatient treatment, you can rely on the support of your peers and professionals as a safety net to hold you accountable.
Bonding with Peers
The accountability provided by your peers is strong because of the bonds you will form while living together in inpatient treatment. The healing process also benefits from being around other people that have had the same life experience as you. The relationships you can forge from inpatient treatment can continue long after your treatment ends. Sharing these bonds can also help each other to a long path of sobriety.
Can attending inpatient treatment hurt my DWI case?
Ultimately, attending inpatient treatment can't hurt your DWI case in and of itself. That's because whether or not you receive drug or alcohol treatment after your arrest has no bearing on whether or not the prosecutor can prove their case against you. To convict you of DWI, the prosecutor must show you were:
- While operating a motor vehicle
- In a public place.
While attending an alcohol treatment facility might be proof for some that you are addressing your issues with substance abuse, your DWI trial is strictly about whether or not you were intoxicated at the time you were operating a vehicle. Because your post-arrest treatment isn't relevant to elements the prosecutor must prove in order to convict you, attending inpatient treatment can't hurt your chances of being acquitted of the crime.
If you are ultimately convicted of the crime, attending inpatient treatment won't negatively influence your sentence either. In your DWI case, you will face a sentence that falls within the minimum and maximum set by state law and decided by a judge. The sentencing range depends entirely on your number of prior convictions, so attending inpatient treatment won't affect your sentence in that manner.
Can inpatient treatment help my case?
For the same reasons discussed above, entering inpatient treatment can't directly help your case when it comes to proving guilt or innocence. But in some cases, attending and completing inpatient alcohol treatment can be beneficial to your case in potentially mitigation punishment received in the event you are convicted. That's because both the prosecutor and the judge in your case have discretion in their decisions.
It is the job of the prosecutor in your case to determine what charges, if any, you will ultimately face. Even if you are arrested on a certain charge, the prosecutor may ultimately opt for amending it to a lesser charge instead.
When considering the charges you will face, it is possible that the prosecutor in your case will take into account that you have entered or completed inpatient treatment for alcohol abuse. This is one situation where hiring an experienced DWI defense attorney can come in handy.
Your attorney will likely have a relationship with the prosecutor in your case. Not only can your attorney shed light on what to expect in your case, but it is also possible your attorney may use your commitment to treatment to convince the prosecutor to lessen or even drop the charges against you.
The prosecutor isn't the only one that will take into consideration your time with inpatient treatment. The judge in your case may also consider your attempt to deal with your substance abuse issue.
Keep in mind, this information won't be useful to the judge when determining your guilt or innocence. But if convicted, the judge in your case has flexibility in how he or she chooses to sentence you. He or she can also consider a wide range of factors that would otherwise not be considered when determining your guilt or innocence.
As such, it is possible that your inpatient treatment could be treated as a factor in your favor when the judge determines your sentence. While the judge is constrained by minimum and maximum sentences based on the number of your prior convictions, it is entirely up to the judge to determine where your sentence falls within the constraints. In some cases, an experienced DWI defense attorney may be able to secure the lightest possible sentence.
Four Things to Do When Entering Rehab during your DWI Case
While entering inpatient rehab won't hurt your case on its own, it is important to understand that if you don't follow the proper steps you can complicate things for yourself. By following these four steps, you will put yourself in a position to get the most out of your inpatient treatment without harming your DWI case.
1. Hire an Attorney to Represent your Interests
The first step after your arrest should be to hire an attorney to defend you. An attorney will do more than just defend you on the day of your trial; your attorney will provide you with legal counsel and represent you at court proceedings when your presence is not mandatory. This is a huge benefit if you are considering entering inpatient care to treat your substance abuse issues, as an attorney can represent you at most court dates without you being required to appear. A lawyer will take the burden of dealing with your DWI case off your shoulders so that you can focus on your recovery.
It may be tempting to try and represent yourself in your DWI case. While you have the right to act as your own attorney, the judge in your case won't give you any leniency despite not being a licensed attorney. Attorneys have experience trying cases and negotiating with prosecutors. If you make a mistake when representing yourself, you could wind up being unable to admit the evidence or testimony you need to prevail at trial.
What's more, without an attorney you will be required to appear at all of your pretrial hearings to represent yourself. This can make it difficult to complete inpatient treatment, as mandatory court dates can cause havoc on your treatment schedule.
2. Keep your Attorney Informed About Your Treatment
When you hire a DWI defense attorney, you can expect useful guidance on a variety of issues related to your case. But to get the most out of your legal counsel, the flow of information needs to go both ways. Inpatient treatment can provide you with a path to recovery, and in some cases, it can be an asset in your DWI case. But if you don't keep your attorney updated on the status of your treatment, your attorney won't be able to properly represent you.
3. Don't Skip a Court Date
Your treatment is important, but that doesn't mean it is worth going to jail over. That's why it is critical to never miss a court date. There are few things that irritate a judge more than defendants failing to appear at a court hearing, and if you miss court, you can expect a warrant to be issued for your arrest. Your lawyer should be able to get your court date rescheduled or your appearance waived.
Not only is a failure to appear a criminal charge that can earn you even more time behind bars, but missing court also undoes any goodwill you might have earned by entering inpatient treatment. It's not hard to understand why; the judge or prosecutor may have a hard time believing that you are taking your case seriously if you miss a court date, but if you have your court date rescheduled or your appearance waived, you will be fine. Most judges will appreciate that you are voluntarily addressing an issue. The law favors rectifying problems and does not punish those for seeking help.
4. Comply With the Requirements of the Treatment Facility
If you don't follow the requirements of the court, you can wind up in jail. But meeting the requirements set out by your treatment facility is also critical. Inpatient facilities routinely have strict rules designed to help you with your recovery. If you fail to abide by these rules, you risk being ejected from inpatient treatment.
This doesn't just cost you the opportunity to address your substance abuse issues; it can cost you the possibility of strengthening your chance at leniency in your DWI case.
How to Find the Best Houston DWI Defense Attorney for You
It should be clear by now that hiring an experienced attorney is an important part of your defense. But how do you find the best attorney available? Advertisements for lawyers permeate television and radio, but most of the time they only offer vague promises. While advertisements and attorney websites might give you a starting point, you won't get a full picture of whether or not an attorney is worth your time until you have an in-person consultation. When meeting with a prospective attorney, like Board Certified DWI and criminal defense attorney Doug Murphy, here are a few things you should consider asking:
- How much trial experience does the attorney have?
- Does the attorney handle ALR hearings as well as criminal cases?
- How did the attorney approach cases similar to yours?
- Is the attorney a Board Certified expert in DWI defense law?
- Is the attorney a Board Certified expert in criminal defense law?
- Is the attorney routinely invited to speak at continuing legal education seminars to teach other lawyers how to successfully handle DWI cases?
Each of these questions will help to give you a better understanding of the attorney you are considering. But when it comes to attorney qualifications, the best indicator of a proven defense attorney is whether or not she or he has been board-certified as experts by the State of Texas.
There are thousands of attorneys in the State of Texas, but only a small percentage of those are ever certified as an expert in DWI defense law. That's because the process to become certified is rigorous. Attorneys must not only meet certain benchmarks regarding their experience in the courtroom, but they must also pass a difficult exam in order to become board-certified. Only then can an attorney refer to themselves as an expert in DWI defense law or criminal law.
Doug Murphy, however, is Board Certified in both DWI defense and criminal law. And his office is conveniently located in Houston, TX, to defend DWI suspects in the greater Houston metropolitan area.
Discuss Your Options with Houston's top DWI Lawyer
Hiring an experienced criminal defense attorney gives you the best chance to obtain a positive outcome in your Houston DWI case. But that doesn't mean just any attorney will do. If you have been charged with a DWI in the Houston area, the Doug Murphy Law Firm, P.C. is ready to provide the strong legal counsel you deserve. Regarded as one of the best DWI defense attorneys in Houston, Doug Murphy has the positive client testimonials to show for it.
The years of experience of obtaining favorable results for his clients have led Doug Murphy to believe that preparing every case for trial offers his clients the best chance of a positive outcome. While many attorneys are content with simply pushing their client to accept whatever plea deal is offered, Doug Murphy approaches cases differently. He believes that Houston DWI cases are defensible, and more often than not a trial is in his client's best interests.
To discuss your case with Houston's well-known DWI defense lawyer, contact the Doug Murphy Law Firm, P.C. today for a free consultation.