If you have been arrested for driving while intoxicated (DWI) in Texas, you must go through the criminal justice system. If this is your first arrest, you may not be familiar with what the DWI court process entails. Facing unknowns can cause stress and anxiety, which can make this whole incident that much more challenging. To help relieve some of your fears, our team has provided a general overview of the DWI court process.
Note that the information provided below cannot cover all the nuances involved in a driving while intoxicated case, especially because every situation is different. To that end, should you have additional questions or concerns about your matter, please reach out to us as soon as possible. Our team at Deandra Grant Law is here to help you through this difficult time and deliver the legal representation you need.
After your arrest, the stages your case may go through are as follows:
- Bond hearing: The bond hearing is where a magistrate decides whether you should be released from jail while your DWI case is pending. They will consider various factors, including your criminal history (if any) and the possibility of your fleeing before your case concludes. Bail serves to ensure that you will return to court after being released. If you are granted bail, you will be subject to several restrictions/limitations; otherwise, you could be subject to various sanctions.
- First appearance setting: The next stage in the DWI court process is the first appearance. Here you will go before a judge who reads the charges against you and ensure that you understand what you have been accused of. They will inform you of your right to counsel and ask whether you are being represented by an attorney. At the first appearance, your lawyer (if you have retained legal representation) may have an opportunity to review the prosecutor's file concerning your case and the police report.
- Announcement setting: During these proceedings, the court is informed of the status of your case. You or your attorney may be asked whether you are going to enter a plea or if the matter will be set for trial.
- Plea setting: Your attorney and the prosecutor may enter talks to determine whether your case can be settled outside of the courtroom. Depending on your situation, a plea deal may require that you plead guilty to the charges in exchange for what may be considered a favorable result for you, such as a reduced sentence. Many cases are settled through a plea bargain.
- Discovery phase: During discovery, the defense and prosecutor exchange the information they have about the case. Your attorney will be able to review the evidence collected against you and plan a course of action for your defense.
- Pretrial docket: Preliminary issues are decided on during pretrial hearings. Commonly, Motions to Suppress are filed at this stage. A Motion to Suppress is a request to the court to deem certain pieces of evidence inadmissible. In a DWI case, the defense may ask the court to exclude evidence because their client's Constitutional rights were violated. For instance, the defense might argue that the initial traffic stop or subsequent arrest was unlawful because their client was subject to an unreasonable search or seizure.
- Trial: If your DWI case is not settled through a plea bargain, it will be set for trial. Trial is where a judge or jury decides whether you are guilty. Both the prosecutor and your defense attorney will present evidence to support their assertions. The trier of fact must base their findings on the evidence heard in court. They can only return a guilty verdict if the prosecutor has proven beyond a reasonable doubt that you are guilty of the alleged offense.
- Punishment and Sentencing: If you are found guilty, your case will move to sentencing. This is where the judge decides what penalties to impose. The prosecutor and your attorney can present evidence during this stage to argue for greater or lesser sanctions. Generally, a first-time DWI without any aggravating factors is a Class B misdemeanor (Texas Penal Code § 49.04). A conviction can lead to between 72 hours and 180 days in jail, a $2,000 fine, and/or driver's license suspension for up to 1 year.
Contact a Lawyer for Defense
DWI cases are challenging, and a lot is at stake. If you have been charged, retain the services of a skilled defense attorney. At Deandra Grant Law, we fight hard for our clients and work toward obtaining a favorable result on their behalf.
Schedule a consultation with a member of our Dallas team by calling us at (214) 225-7117 or contacting us online today.