Being placed under arrest is a difficult experience for most people. The feeling of losing your freedom can be devastating, which is only topped for some people by the embarrassment of being put into the back of a police car. These emotions are only amplified when you are placed under arrest for a crime you did not commit.
Media attention for wrongful arrests and convictions typically center around high profile cases like murder. However, the chances are good that the number of wrongful DWI arrests in Texas dwarfs the number of wrongful arrests on other charges.
One of the reasons DWI arrests are often wrongful is that so much of the evidence police rely on is subjective. From their initial observations to field sobriety tests, most of the evidence police used to form probable cause for a DWI arrest is based on their opinion. Because opinions can vary, police routinely get it wrong in DWI cases.
If you are placed under arrest for DWI despite not being intoxicated, it is important that you do everything you can to protect yourself. One misstep could weaken your case, making it difficult to prove that you were not intoxicated or had not been driving. Below, we discuss the most important steps to follow after a wrongful DWI arrest.
When DWI Arrests are Unlawful in Houston
Police make mistakes every day. Unfortunately, those mistakes often lead to wrongful arrests. One of the most common circumstances for a wrongful arrest is when police mistakenly believe you are under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Many officers approach every interaction with the public expecting an intoxicated person. This can lead them to jump to conclusions. In some cases, these conclusions are bolstered by misleading portable breath test results. There are countless medical conditions and substances that can throw off the result of a portable breath test.
Police can make other mistakes, too. While there is little doubt about who was driving when police initiate a traffic stop, officers are prone to mistakes when a vehicle crash leads to an accident investigation. In many accident cases, the drivers and their passengers will exit the car before the police arrive. When this happens, law enforcement often makes the incorrect assumption about who was behind the wheel. This situation could lead the police to arrest you for an accident where someone else was driving.
While these false arrests are serious, your Houston DWI defense attorney could help you fight back against these charges. The right attorney could poke holes in the police investigation and show the jury that the police built their case on false assumptions.
Steps to Take After an Unlawful Arrest in Houston, TX
By following these steps after a wrongful arrest, you can avoid making your situation worse.
Do Not Resist Arrest
There is much talk online about a citizen's right to resist an unlawful arrest. In fact, Texas common law provided that a person has the right to resist an arrest that is unlawful. However, that is no longer the controlling law in Texas. Texas Penal Code Section 38.03 eliminated the right to resist an unlawful arrest. In other words, resisting an arrest – no matter how unlawful – will lead to additional charges against you.
As a practical matter, it is always best to be cordial and compliant with police. By avoiding giving them a reason to target you, you are more likely to avoid making the situation worse. In some cases, law enforcement will acknowledge they made a mistake and release you. This is much less likely to occur if you are aggressive towards the officers.
Do Not Discuss Your Case
While being polite towards the police will work in your favor, it is still in your best interest to avoid discussing the details of your case. First of all, you are under no obligation to talk to the police after your arrest. Second, the police only care about turning up evidence that could be used against you at trial. Once an arrest happens, it is best to let your legal counsel do the talking for you. In many cases, the police will take what you say out of context in order to tip the scales in your case. By not discussing your case at all, you can avoid these pitfalls.
Submit to Breath or Blood Tests
Under current Texas law, it rarely makes sense to refuse a chemical test. Law enforcement has taken to obtaining court orders called search warrants for the blood of drivers that refuse a breath test, meaning it is unlikely that you will keep the police from knowing your blood alcohol concentration. However, if you have not been drinking, a negative blood test is strong evidence in your favor.
If the officers arresting you fail to administer a breath or blood test after your arrest, or if you are concerned the breath test was flawed in some way, you also have the option of requesting a second test. An independent blood test could be the evidence that you need to avoid a conviction. Keep in mind, this additional testing will be done at your expense.
Hire a Houston DWI Defense Attorney Immediately
The most important step after a wrongful arrest is to hire an experienced criminal defense attorney. Your legal counsel could hold the police accountable for your wrongful arrest and work to have the charges against you dismissed. If the prosecutor is intent on going forward with those charges, your attorney can fight for your legal rights at trial before a jury of your peers. With the right legal counsel, you could avoid a conviction based on your wrongful arrest.
Your Choice of Defense Attorney Matters in Houston, TX
Because of what's at stake, it is important that the attorney you select has experience with wrongful DWI arrests. Hands-on experience is crucial in these cases, and you deserve legal counsel that does not have to learn on the job.
Attorney Doug Murphy has a long track record of helping people wrongfully charged with DWI in Houston. Doug Murphy has a long track record of persuading judges and juries to disregard evidence illegally obtained or providing it no weight due to improper administration. An experienced and successful trial lawyer, Doug Murphy is always prepared to fight for his clients at trial if the prosecution refuses to drop the charges. To discuss your case in detail, contact the Doug Murphy Law Firm, P.C. right away.