Can you win your Houston DWI case? The answer is dependent on two things: (1) the facts and circumstances surrounding your case; and (2) the experience and reputation of your lawyer. In reality, no attorney is allowed by the Texas Rules of Professional Responsibility to make promises about a certain outcome before reviewing your case in-depth. Making a promise is unethical and provides a false promise without the ability to review all the facts. With that in mind, a board-certified Houston DWI attorney can be the difference in getting your case dismissed or found not guilty versus entering a plea of guilty or being found guilty. If you were diagnosed with cancer, wouldn't you seek the services of a cancer specialist? Why would you treat your freedom in the same manner? Hire a board-certified DWI specialist who is trial tested with a proven reputation.
Ultimately, only you can decide what constitutes a “win” in your case. Some people understand they made a mistake and simply want to limit the amount of fines or avoid jail time. But for the majority of our clients, a DWI arrest is the person's first brush with the law. They do not want a criminal record. For them, there are no circumstances where a plea bargain will be acceptable. For example, if your job requires a security clearance or you have a professional license -- like a pilot's license, nursing license, or medical professional license -- in Texas, a DWI conviction can lead to the clearance or license being revoked. A plea offer with favorable fines won't be that appealing if it also leads to losing your livelihood. In this situation, anything short of an acquittal or dismissal may be completely unacceptable. Not to mention the negative stigma associated with a DWI conviction that can tarnish your professional reputation.
Finally, in some cases, a plea offer may not be made or may be so low there is little room between it and the maximum penalties available. This is more common in cases where a defendant may have prior convictions or a long criminal history. If the plea offer available isn't much better than what you would expect if you lose at trial, it only makes sense to try the case. That's where a skilled and experienced board-certified DWI lawyer can make the difference.
These differing circumstances can greatly affect what your view of a win actually is. Before you can make any decisions regarding your case, your defense attorney will need to thoroughly investigate the facts and determine how much legal jeopardy you face. Fortunately for you, Doug Murphy -- Board Certified in DWI defense and Board Certified in criminal law -- believes in fighting for your rights and freedom as opposed to making deals that leave you with a criminal record. And fortunately for you, Doug Murphy is renowned as one of the best DWI lawyers in the nation with a record of positive outcomes for his DWI clients.
What do prosecutors have to prove to convict you of DWI in Texas?
Most people have an understanding of what a charge of driving while intoxicated includes. State law sets a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) limit, which in Texas is anything above .08% BAC. When you exceed that limit, you are legally intoxicated. However, there are actually two different ways the state can prove its case and only one of them has to do with BAC. According to Texas law, you are intoxicated if you:
- Not having the normal use of mental or physical faculties due to alcohol, drugs, or a combination of both; or
- a breath or blood alcohol concentration of 0.08% or more.
The first prong exists for cases in which a driver refuses or is unable to provide a breath or blood test. It is also intended for drivers under the influence of drugs, which would not register on a standard breath test, i.e., an Intoxilyzer 9000.
Investigating Your Texas DWI Case
There is a lot that goes into building your defense before your attorney ever steps foot in front of a jury or sits down with a prosecutor to negotiate. The State must prove that you were operating a motor vehicle and doing so while intoxicated on drugs or alcohol. That leaves the prosecutor with the burden of proving a series of factors. Your defense attorney only needs to convince a jury on one issue for you to prevail.
Your attorney's investigation begins with talking to you about the case. It's critical that you are open and honest with your attorney; even if you were intoxicated at the time you were arrested, your attorney needs all of the information available to build your case. Every aspect of your arrest will be analyzed, from the beginning of the evening/morning to your arrest and throughout the processing.
An experienced defense attorney will also seek any documentation the State possesses relating to your case. These documents include but are not limited to police reports, video, and test results.
One of the first places your attorney will look is the police report. The arresting officer is responsible for compiling an official report that details the circumstances of your arrest and the details of how law enforcement first made contact with you. The police can't simply pull you over any time they want; your constitutional rights protect you from unlawful traffic stops and illegal searches and seizures.
If your attorney determines from the police report that the reason the officer stopped you was illegal, he may be able to exclude any evidence recovered from you by the police. That can include BAC results and even confessions. The police report will also be used to confirm how thorough the officer's investigation was, and whether or not he remained in compliance with officer protocol throughout the process.
If you were pulled over during a traffic stop prior to your arrest, the odds are good that the event was captured on video. It goes without saying how this information could be helpful. In some cases, the video will actually record the alleged traffic violation that the stop is based on. Your attorney may be able to argue that the stop was unlawful as no traffic violations were actually committed. Your attorney may also be able to challenge the accuracy of any field sobriety tests that were recorded. Standard field sobriety tests must be administered correctly for them to actually have any real probative value that a person is intoxicated.
A video may call into question whether you actually failed a field sobriety test, for instance. It can also reflect whether law enforcement properly performed the testing.
The results of any BAC testing are also critical to your defense. These tests routinely come in the form of blood, breath, or urine. An experienced defense attorney knows what to look for when evaluating test results. Your attorney may also be entitled to the documentation indicating whether or not the machines have been properly calibrated. Breathalyzers may not be accurate if they are not properly cared for. Finally, your attorney may request any documentation that you signed where you acknowledge you understood your rights at the time you gave the sample to be tested.
The Three Possible Outcomes of your DWI Case
Once your attorney's initial investigation is complete, it is time to discuss your options. While many DWI cases ultimately end in plea agreements, some ultimately go to trial. A handful of those cases will even be dismissed by the prosecutor. And that's what Doug Murphy and his legal team aim for: dismissal. Alternatively, if a dismissal is not the outcome, Doug Murphy and his legal team aim for an acquittal at trial.
Dismissal of all charges is without a doubt the best case scenario for all DWI defendants. However, it's important to understand that this outcome only happens when the right circumstances are present and an experienced attorney uses those circumstances to his client's benefit.
Dismissal often occurs when evidence is in want or a mistake has been made by law enforcement or lab technicians. It is possible that if law enforcement made a mistake during the course of your arrest that, if raised before or at trial, would lead to all the evidence against you being thrown out. It is possible, for example, that your attorney determines you were pulled over but you did not violate any traffic law.
It takes a skilled attorney to obtain results like this, so you choose your legal representation carefully. Armed with a good defense, your attorney may be able to talk the prosecutor into not pursuing the charges against you to avoid an embarrassing trial defeat.
A lot of cases eventually end in a plea bargain. Courts are very accepting of evidence of an elevated BAC, as such, many lawyers do not risk trial but persuade their clients to take the plea. It's quick money for the defense attorney, a quick open-and-shut case for the prosecutor, and less money spent on both sides for the costs of a trial.
But for you -- you end up with a criminal record. That could mean fines and jail time -- even if it is much lower than what is allowed due to the plea deal. The decision on whether or not a plea bargain meets your needs is up to you. With Doug Murphy, however, he prefers fighting, and not dealing, to obtain the best possible outcome for you.
In the end, DWI cases that aren't dismissed or resolved with a plea agreement will go to trial. This is ultimately where your attorney can best use experience, resources, and insight to win you an acquittal. A board-certified DWI attorney knows how to successfully cross-examine the state's expert witnesses to shine reasonable doubt in your case, determine if you are going to testify, and develop the overall trial strategy.
Your defense attorney's real job is to hold the State to its burden of proof: guilty beyond a reasonable doubt -- anything less is a win for you.
Hiring the Best Harris County TX DWI Defense Attorney for You
As you can see, hiring the right DWI defense attorney is critical to the outcome of your case. Time is of the essence, as opportunities and evidence to investigate your case are lost as each day passes. Witnesses become scarce, memories become hazy, and details get missed as time goes by. Your freedom can hinge on the experience and skills of your attorney, which makes hiring an attorney one of the most important decisions you will make.
Board-certified DWI attorney Doug Murphy understands how difficult this situation is. Most people arrested for DWI have no prior DWI arrests. You aren't a hardened criminal; you likely just made a mistake thousands make every day. Doug Murphy understands that feeling and is dedicated to reaching the needs of his clients at all times. With Doug Murphy and his team, you can count on a board-certified DWI and criminal defense lawyer to have your back. To discuss your case, contact the Doug Murphy Law Firm, P.C. today to set up a free consultation.