Wharton County is a pretty laid back place to live or visit. You can go fishing or hang gliding or just about anything else you want, like have a drink at a sports bar with friends on a Friday night. But be careful about drinking and then getting behind the wheel, because -- even though this is a largely rural area -- you can still get arrested for driving while intoxicated.
And an arrest in Wharton County, Texas, can be a scary thing. You could end up spending the night in the county jail. You will be left with thoughts of what you are going to do next… and that should always be to hire an experienced criminal defense lawyer rather than plead guilty. You may think the odds are against you. But they aren't necessarily. With an experienced criminal defense lawyer in Wharton County, you stand a good chance at a favorable outcome. You just need to know how to find the right attorney because in Wharton County, your options are limited.
At Doug Murphy Law Firm, P.C., we represent clients throughout Wharton County, but our office is located in Houston, Texas. Doug Murphy and his team routinely travel to conduct any necessary investigations and negotiations. He combines intelligence with strategy when he defends his clients. So, if you find yourself contemplating what to do after an arrest, know this: Doug Murphy and his legal team are here to support you. Contact his office today.
Charged with a Crime in Wharton County? What You Should Know about Hiring a Criminal Defense Lawyer
If you have been arrested and charged with a crime, your first instinct may be to google criminal defense lawyers in your area rather than lookup trial attorneys. That makes sense. But what you may not think about is this: you want a criminal defense lawyer with trial experience.
So many criminal cases today are settled outside the courtroom, and for many suspects, they think this is to their benefit -- they escape with a reduced charge and lighter sentence. But what it really is: good news for both the state and the criminal defense lawyer, the latter who charges you more than what the effort is to make that plea deal. Plus, you still end up with a criminal conviction. And that's bad news for you. Your sentence may be lighter, but you have to deal with consequences that are collateral to that plea deal.
For instance, are you or do you plan to obtain a pilot's license? There are a lot of pilots and pilot instructors in and around El Campo, Texas. If this is an interest of yours, then if arrested and convicted, your ability to obtain or maintain a pilot's license could be affected. The same goes for medical licenses and nursing licenses.
There are also quite a few careers and jobs in and around Wharton County that require a security clearance. Some jobs, like counselors or janitors, require minimal security clearance depending on the employer. A conviction could prevent you from obtaining or maintaining a security clearance.
But collateral consequences affect more than professional licenses and security clearance, they can affect your overall job search. When an employer learns of your criminal background, the employer will likely pass you up to the next qualified candidate. You are viewed as a liability.
Other areas where a criminal record could impact your life negatively include:
- Financial aid
- Admissions to a higher education institution
- Rental agreement in a safe environment
- Constitutional rights, such as the right to vote or own and use a firearm
- Custody of your children; or among other things
- A good reputation among family and community.
If any of these things matter to you, then you should consider the type of attorney you hire. The only way to prevent these long-term frustrations is to find an attorney dedicated to your defense and committed to the dismissal of the charges or an acquittal at trial. That means finding an attorney who intends to go to trial from the very beginning of your case.
A Criminal Defense & Trial Lawyer
Many criminal defense lawyers prefer bargaining with the prosecutor's office rather defending you in a court of law and before your peers. In fact, many prefer plea deals because they can be quick and easy as opposed to a long court trial process, where your chances of a better outcome are more probable.
Many criminal defense lawyers haven't even stepped foot in a courtroom. Some will contract with another lawyer to conduct the trial instead. This dynamic creates an opportunity for mistakes and mistrust. Neither of those two is acceptable if your defense is to be successful.
Doug Murphy understands the benefit and strategies of both planning to go to trial and actually going to trial. His clients have benefited from the same. He is not an attorney who shies away before a judge. In fact, he holds the judge and jury accountable to the principle that you are innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.
With Doug Murphy as your criminal defense and trial lawyer, you know you are getting experience and a real fighter, not someone who will settle your case because it is the easiest thing to do. His clients confirm the same via testimonials. He also has the case results that indicate his fighting proclivity.
What's more, Doug Murphy is Board Certified in DUI law by the National College of DUI Defense, accredited by the American Bar Association. He is also Board Certified in criminal law by the Texas Board of Legal Specializations. There are only two attorneys in all of Texas who are Board Certified simultaneously in these two practice areas, and Doug Murphy is one of them.
A Strong Criminal Defense
Doug Murphy is the kind of lawyer who reviews cases from all angles, considering not just the alleged crime and circumstances, but also considering the person behind the alleged crime. He uses this information as the foundation of his defense strategy.
In some cases, a defense strategy is based on a true belief that the suspect is innocent. In other cases, a defense strategy could be based on a number of things, including an affirmative defense in the case you as the defendant has a justifiable reason to commit the act. In these cases, you admit the act but claim there was a legal justification for it. Affirmative defense include:
Doug Murphy and his team will perform other acts to support the defense, like filing motions to suppress evidence when that evidence was obtained illegally, providing expert testimony that both supports the defense and calls into question the prosecutor's claims, or strategically cross-examining the prosecutor's witnesses to invoke doubt or impeach the testimony.
Each case is unique. As such, Doug Murphy takes the time to listen to you, uncover all the facts and circumstances, and move ahead with a strategy committed to defending your rights and freedom.
Criminal Cases Represented by Doug Murphy Law Firm, P.C. in Wharton County
Doug Murphy Law Firm, P.C. exclusively represents criminal cases, with a bulk of those cases related to driving while intoxicated (DWI).
Driving while intoxicated is illegal throughout the country, and in Texas, it is no different. The distinction, however, is found in the penalties. Texas has some of the harshest penalties for persons convicted of DWI or related offenses.
One thing that Doug Murphy wants all his potential clients to know is this: you can fight a DWI offense. You may think because you failed field sobriety tests, a breath test, or blood test, that you are headed for a conviction so you might as well plead guilty and get it over, but this would be a mistake. In more cases than you can imagine, things go wrong for the prosecutor. Field sobriety tests prove inaccurate and unreliable. Evidence gets tampered with or misplaced. Police officers are caught in lies. Expert testimony refutes the State's claims. A number of things could happen, and Doug Murphy is keen to identify these things and/or to challenge the State.
Doug Murphy will fight your case in part by contesting any of the following that is relevant:
- the constitutionality of the stop.
- the constitutionality of any search and seizure.
- the constitutionality of the administration of roadside tests.
- the constitutionality of the probable cause to arrest.
- the constitutionality of the Miranda rights.
- the manner in which roadside tests were given.
- the use of any blood or breath test.
Doug Murphy Law Firm, P.C. represents the following DWI cases:
- Felony DWI
- Underage DUI
- DWI Commercial Driver's License
- DWI Marijuana
- DWI Prescription Drugs
- DWI with a child passenger under 15
- Flying While Intoxicated
- Boating While Intoxicated
- Intoxication Assault
- Intoxication Manslaughter
- Open Container
As in DWI charges, the same applies here: it is in your best interests to plead not guilty. The law allows for you to defend yourself before a jury. If you plead guilty, then you waive your right to a jury trial. And a jury trial, either while planning for it or conducting it, is your best option to have the case dismissed, acquitted or get your case reduced to a lesser criminal charge.
Remember, the State has the burden to prove you guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. Doug Murphy is tasked with the responsibility to invoke doubt if not prove your innocence.
Doug Murphy Law Firm, P.C. has experience representing a wide range of criminal offenses:
- Drug Possession
- Criminally Negligent Homicide
- Vehicular Manslaughter
- Vehicular Assault
- White Collar Crimes
- Domestic Violence
- Prostitution & Solicitation
- Texting and Driving
- Hit & Run FSGI
- Hit & Run FSRA
- Evading Arrest
- Aggravated Assault
- Unlawful Restraint
- Injury to Child, Elderly, Disabled
- Deadly Conduct
- Obstructing a Highway
- Disorderly Conduct
- Terroristic Threats
- & More
Wharton County Court System
The court system in Wharton County Court System is like any other court system in any other county of Texas. At the bottom of the hierarchy are the municipal courts and the Justice of the Peace courts, which have jurisdiction over simple traffic violations or city ordinance violations. In Wharton County, there is one County Court at Law, which is statutorily mandated. This court has jurisdiction over Class A and Class B misdemeanors. All counties also have at least one district court assigned to it, and these court oversee felony crimes as well as other cases. Wharton County has two District Courts assigned to it.
County Court at Law of Wharton County TX
There is only one county court at law in Wharton County. You can check the County Court docket for updates on the cases being heard each day.
County Court at Law
Phillip Spenrath, Judge
100 South Fulton Street
Wharton TX 77488
Judge Philip Spenrath was first elected in 2010 and then was reelected in 2014. His current term ends December 31, 2018. He is also a Deacon at First Baptist Church in El Camp. He attended M. Cooley School of Law and passed the Texas bar exam but never practiced a day of law. Instead, he taught high school for twenty years and then became a judge.
Concerned about this development, the District Attorney requested the Honorable Greg Abbott, Attorney General of Texas, in April 2011, to review the matter and issue a legal opinion to determine if failure to activate a law license before becoming a judge qualifies as “an attorney licensed by the state.” Notwithstanding, Philip Spenrath, whether qualified or not, has been the judge of the county court for almost 8 years.
Judicial District Courts of Wharton County TX
There are two District Courts that operate in and support Wharton County: the 23rd and 329th Judicial Districts.
23rd District Court
Judge Ben Hardin
111 East Locust
Arlington, TX 77515-4678
All odd numbered cases are assigned to the 23rd Judicial District Court. Judge Ben Hardin represents the Republican Party. He was first elected unopposed in November 2012 in the general election and then re-elected unopposed in November 2016.
329th District Court
Judge Randy Clapp
100 South Fulton
Wharton, TX 77488
All even numbered cases are assigned to the 329th Judicial District Court. Judge Randy Clapp represents the Republican Party. He was first assumed office in August 2007 and was re-elected in November 2010 and then in November 2014, each time unopposed. His current term is set to end December 31, 2018. Before becoming a judge, he was a partner at Duckett, Bouligny & Collins, LLP.
Wharton County Adult Probation
All probation and parole programs in Wharton County are administered by the Wharton County Community Supervision and Corrections Department, also known as the Adult Probation.
Wharton County Probation Department
321 East Milam Street
Wharton, TX 77488
Wharton County Jail & Prison Facilities
A conviction can carry with it a sentence of incarceration. If that happens, the incarceration facility assigned to you will depend in part on the classification of your crime.
- A conviction of a misdemeanor means you may be sentenced to the Wharton County jail.
- A conviction of a state jail felony means you may be sentenced to a state jail located outside of Wharton County.
- A conviction of a third-degree felony or higher means you may be sentenced to a state prison outside of Wharton County.
You can look up an offender at a Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ) facility by using their online offender search tool.
Wharton County Jail
Any arrest by an officer from the Department of Public Safety (DPS), the Sheriff's office, or a local police department may result in an initial booking into the Wharton County Jail. A conviction of a misdemeanor will also result in your confinement at the county jail. To look an inmate up in the county jail, you can do so on their search page using their name, charge, or day arrested.
Wharton County Jail Division
Detention Center Network
315 East Elm Street
Wharton, TX 77488
Wharton County Law Enforcement Agencies
There are a number of law enforcement agencies throughout Wharton County. Officers you are most likely to encounter are from the Sheriff's Office or local police.
Wharton County Sheriff's Office
The Wharton County Sheriff's Office oversees and investigates criminal activity throughout parts of Wharton County that are not generally served by the local police.
Wharton County Sheriff's Department
Sheriff Shannon Srubar
315 East Elm Street
Wharton, TX 77488
In Wharton County, there are only two local police departments. They oversee local crimes, particularly in the larger cities of Wharton and El Campo.
Wharton Police Department
Chief Terry David Lynch
1407 North Richmond Road
Wharton, TX 77488
El Campo Police Department
Chief Terry Stanphill
1011 West Loop
El Campo, TX 77437
Doug Murphy Law Firm, P.C. Representation
Doug Murphy Law Firm, P.C. is based in Houston, Texas, but it provides legal services throughout the region. If you live in any of the following cities or any surrounding area throughout Wharton County, Doug Murphy Law Firm, P.C. will provide criminal defense.
Experienced DWI Defense & Criminal Defense Lawyer in Wharton County, Texas
If you have been charged with a DWI or another criminal offense and want to fight it, retain a DWI and criminal defense attorney committed to the same. At Doug Murphy Law Firm, P.C., you get commitment and results. Doug Murphy has been defending clients for more than 19 years. He is well-known in the legal community and is often invited to speaking engagements to help other attorneys in Texas and beyond. Contact Doug Murphy Law Firm, P.C. today at (713) 229-8333 for a consultation.