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Your Texas DWI charge: The facts to know

When you went out on the town with your friends, you didn't think you would end up spending your night in the local jail. Despite your good intentions for a fun evening out, circumstances resulted in you getting pulled over, accused of DWI and arrested.

Your job is important to you, and with a professional license on the line, you want to know that your DWI charge won't cost you your career. Here are some things you should keep in mind about a Texas DWI charge.

Corporate fraud: What to do if you're accused

Anyone who commits fraud is putting him- or herself at risk of criminal charges at the federal level. This is a particular risk if you are caught participating in corporate fraud or are accused of being involved with corporate fraud.

Corporate fraud includes various acts such as falsifying your financial records, late trading, the misuse of corporate property and others.

You may have grounds for challenging breathalyzer results

Here in Texas, DWI violations come with heavy consequences for those who receive criminal charges. Not only do suspects face immediate revocation of their license if they fail a breathalyzer test, should they refuse to take the test altogether, they may lose their license anyway under the state's implied consent law.

If you experience a DWI stop, understanding your options throughout the interaction is important, because the actions you take or do not take may significantly impact the way that the prosecution builds its case against you. You do have the right to refuse the breathalyzer test and lose your license, and doing so limits the evidence that the prosecution can use to prove your inebriation in court. However, if you do submit to a breathalyzer test and receive charges due to the results, you may have some cards left to play.

Attorney Writ Bonds in Collin County

Sometimes you need an attorney's help to bond out of jail in Collin County. Some counties in the Dallas Ft-Worth area, like Collin County, use pre-determined bond amounts on misdemeanor cases. In order to trigger those bond amounts, Collin County has a system in place that requires an attorney to file what's called an "Attorney Writ Bond."

Attorney Writ Bonds in Collin County are needed to obtain someone's release on misdemeanor charges when there isn't a judge or magistrate at the jail to set a bond amount. Collin County Attorney Writ Bonds are commonly used to bond people out of jail on misdemeanor charges like DWI, possession of marijuana, theft, driving while license suspended, and possession of controlled substances.

If your friend, family member, or loved one is in the Collin County jail and needs immediate release, call an attorney experienced in handling Collin County Attorney Writ Bonds, like criminal defense trial lawyer Keith Gore. Even if the person is in jail in a local city jail, like McKinney, Plano, Frisco, Allen, Wylie, Celina, Prosper, and Fairview, the Attorney Writ Bond process can still be used to get them out of jail.

Getting out of the Collin County Jail by Posting Bond / Reducing Bond

The words "bail" and "bond" are often used interchangeably around the Collin County Courthouse, and for the most part the distinction doesn't matter. Technically, bail is the amount of money the accused must deposit with the Collin County Sheriff to be released from jail, while bonds are actually bails paid by bail bond companies. Either way, we are talking about getting a friend or family member out of the Collin County Jail.

A bond is a written promise signed by the accused or a surety (one who promises to act in the place of another). A bond is supposed to ensure the accused's presence in court. If the accused does not appear in court when required, then the surety must pay the bond amount to the county.

When someone is arrested, judges set bond amounts. Here's an example: say someone is arrested for DWI and the judge sets bond at $1,000. The accused can either post $1,000 in cash to obtain release, or pay a bail bondsman a fee to post the bond, which is called a surety bond. Bail bondsmen usually charge 10% of the bond amount. So in this example, the accused would pay the bail bondsman $100.00 to get out of jail.

A surety bond is a promise by a surety or guarantor to pay the county a certain amount if the accused fails to appear in court as ordered. With surety bonds, the fee that was paid to the bail bondsman is non-refundable; you aren't getting it back. Also, bail bondsmen require that the accused check-in on a regular basis, usually once a week, until the court case is over.

Sex Offender Registration for Indecency with a Child Charges

Even if someone accused of indecency with a child receives deferred adjudication, or probation from a jury after conviction, the person must still register as a sex offender. The length of time that sex offender registration is required depends upon which part of the indecency with a child statute was violated.

Indecency with a Child Prosecutions in Collin County and Dallas-Ft. Worth

Indecency with a child accusations are vigorously investigated and prosecuted in McKinney, Plano, Dallas, Allen, Denton, Frisco, Sherman, Ft. Worth, and Rockwall. This blog post will provide an overview of indecency with a child charges and how they are investigated and prosecuted in Collin County and neighboring counties.

Texas Penal Code Section 21.11 describes the offense of indecency with a child. Indecency with a child can be committed in one of two ways.

The first way indecency with a child can be committed is defined in Texas Penal Code Section 21.11(a)(1). This section of the law applies to indecency with a child by contact.

Indecency with a child by contact occurs when a person engages in sexual contact with a child or causes the child to engage in sexual contact. A child is defined as a person younger than 17 years of age.

What is sexual contact? Texas Penal Code Section 21.11(c) defines sexual contact as follows: "if committed with the intent to arouse or gratify the sexual desire of any person:

Pleading Guilty to DWI Should be Your Last Resort

Unlike most criminal offenses in Texas, it is impossible to get deferred adjudication probation (or non-conviction probation) for DWI and DWI related offenses, like DWI 2nd, DWI 3rd, intoxication assault, and intoxication manslaughter. That means one of three things is guaranteed to happen to a person arrested for DWI:

  • 1. She will be found "not guilty" by a judge or a jury after a trial.
  • 2. She will be found "guilty" by a judge or a jury after a trial. "Guilty" verdicts also occur in DWI cases anytime the accused pleads guilty, usually as the result of a plea bargain agreement between the defense and prosecution. Because deferred adjudication isn't an option in DWI cases, if the accused pleads guilty, the court must find her guilty.
  • 3. The DWI charge is dropped by the arresting police agency, or refused for prosecution or dismissed by the district attorney's office. These rarely happen. DA's Offices in Collin, Denton, Dallas, Tarrant, Sherman, and Rockwall rarely dismiss DWI cases, and if they do it is usually because the arresting officer has been fired or because the defense won a motion to suppress evidence the state needs to prosecute the case.

First offense DWI is a class "B" misdemeanor, which is punishable by not less than 72 hours and up to 180 days in the county jail and an optional fine of up to $2,000. A first time DWI can also be a class "A" misdemeanor if the blood or breath alcohol concentration was greater than 0.15. Class "A" misdemeanors are punishable by up to one year in the county jail and an optional fine of up to $4,000.

The charge of DWI 2nd Offense is a class "A" misdemeanor. Unlike with first time DWI charges, a conviction for DWI 2nd carries a mandatory jail sentence of 3 days as a condition of probation. That's right. In addition to probation, a person convicted of DWI 2nd must also serve a minimum of 3 days and up to 30 days in jail as a requirement of probation.

What is probation like for DWI cases in Collin County and the Dallas-Ft. Worth area? Probation for DWI and DWI 2nd convictions can be for up to two years, and may be extended by the court for one additional year. Below is an overview of DWI and DWI 2nd probation.

Non-Disclosure of Criminal Records for DWI Offenses

Prior to September 1, 2017, non-disclosure of criminal records was unavailable in Texas for Driving While Intoxicated (DWI) offenses. That all changed with the passage of House Bill 3016, known as the "Second Chances" bill for DWI convictions.

Texas law now allows a person convicted of DWI to obtain an order of non-disclosure, but only under certain conditions. Texas Government Code Sec. 411.0731 provides some relief.

An order of non-disclosure of criminal records means that public agencies, like the police, district attorney's offices, Texas Department of Public Safety, jails, district and county clerk's offices, probation departments, etc., will not disclose information about the DWI charge (or any other criminal charge for which non-disclosure is available) to the public. These governmental agencies remove the case information from their public websites and will not release information to the public. But, those agencies maintain custody of the records, and if the person commits a new offense, the non-disclosed charge can be used in the prosecution of the new charge.

What are the requirements to obtain an order of non-disclosure for a DWI conviction? Here's a summary:

  • 1. If there was a breath or blood test, it must be less than 0.15.
  • 2. The person must have never been convicted of or placed on deferred adjudication probation for anything greater than a traffic offense punishable by a fine only.
  • 3. The person successfully completed DWI probation, or served the full jail sentence.
  • 4. The person has paid all costs of court, fines, and restitution imposed by the court

What Matters in a Courtroom: Truth or Proof?

The late U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia wrote in an dissenting opinion that, "This Court has never held that the Constitution forbids the execution of a convicted defendant who has had a full and fair trial but is later able to convince a habeas court that he is 'actually' innocent. In Re Troy Anthony Davis, U.S. Supreme Court, 2009.

Wait, what? Did a United States Supreme Court justice actually say that the Constitution would not be offended if an innocent man were executed for a capital murder he didn't commit? In a word: yes.

How can that be? Doesn't it defy common sense and basic notions of fairness to say that the United States Constitution has no problem with executing an innocent person? Not when you understand that criminal jury trials are about what a jury decides the truth is, not what the truth actually is.

The criminal justice system in the United States is not concerned with the truth, but rather with what a prosecutor can convince a jury is true. In theory, the rules of evidence and procedure followed in Texas courtrooms are designed to bring out the truth. And for the most part it works that way.

When you read in the news that someone was exonerated and set free from prison or death row, keep in mind that a jury found them guilty. The jury didn't want to send an innocent person to prison or to death row, and neither did 99.9% of the prosecutors in those cases. So how did it happen? Because the prosecutor and jury believed the evidence meant one thing when in reality it meant something else.

In a criminal jury trial, the jury decides what the facts are, not the judge. Facts are subject to different interpretations. For example, have you ever made a sarcastic comment that someone took literally? Remember the scene in the movie Trading Places when Eddie Murphy accidentally bumped into Dan Aykroyd and Dan thought he was being robbed? Anyone watching the movie knows that Eddie wasn't robbing Dan, but that's not how the police saw it after interviewing Dan. If the jury believes Dan when he says he was robbed, Eddie goes to prison.

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Keith Gore, Lawyer
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McKinney, TX 75071

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