How Long Can You Delay a DUI Case? The Information That Matters
A DWI (DUI) case can be one of the most stressful things to deal with in Texas and beyond. You've likely heard about the way this offense is frowned upon, which is enough to make DUI defense a nightmare.
However, DWI cases are often also a source of worry because of the painstaking process often associated with seeing them come to an end. As that time passes, some of the worst thoughts begin to go through your head. Do you need a DWI lawyer? Are you going to get jail time? What kind of criminal charges could you be looking at? What does this mean for your criminal record?
It can get kind of crazy, especially as you begin to wonder about other offenses you may have committed in the drunk driving spell. Regardless of whether there's reasonable suspicion or not, what you need is an expert attorney on your side, especially if the matter is going to be taken to a jury trial.
If you want an attorney who knows the nuances of the Texas court system after having been booked for a DWI charge, call the Sparks Law Firm office today at (817) 381-7846. During the call, we can arrange a free consultation, where we discuss the parameters of your DWI case and talk through what can be done, even with the limited circumstances present.
How Come a DUI Case Moves along so Slowly?
The problem with the DWI case process is the number of moving parts that make up the equation. It's not as straightforward as a blood alcohol concentration test, followed by an arrest, then there's a court date, you're found guilty or there's a not guilty verdict, then the court rules on your fines, conviction, or lack thereof.
First, after an arresting officer completes the required chemical test and establishes that your blood alcohol levels are beyond the legal limit, the prosecutor's office is responsible for ensuring that your case is adequately filed. However, the prosecution oftentimes can't do so immediately, leaving you playing the dreaded waiting game.
If there was a vehicle accident that happened as a result of your DUI, there needs to be enough evidence surrounding both the offense and the scene, which can setup a perfect storm for weeks and even months of process time.
There may even be a situation in which the sample taken that proved there was a controlled substance in your blood has gone missing. Assume that this was the only true evidence that could be held against you. How could the state decide to grant a speedy trial when no one can account for a sample analysis that should be in custody?
On the bright side, as time passes, especially if the sample is lost, then this worrisome legal issue could end up working in your favor.
How Long Does the State Have to File a Case against You?
The answer to this generally depends on the case parameters. Assuming this is either a class C misdemeanor for a minor, or a first or second offense DWI misdemeanor (without prior convictions), the statute of limitations is two years.
Things get worse if the matter is a felony DWI case, intoxication assault case, DWI case with a child, or Intoxication manslaughter case. Intoxication manslaughter has no statute of limitation. but the other three have three years.
If You've Been Given No Court Date for an Extended Period, Are You off the Hook?
If you haven't seen where a DWI charge seems to be advancing to a court appearance, then it can feel as if you are off the hook/ Nevertheless, unless the statute expires, you may still be facing criminal charges. After that time passes, however, the police can no longer file charges. Nevertheless, there's still the matter of your record.
Though there was no hearing, your arrest record still exists and failure to have it expunged is not going to benefit you in any way. You'd be surprised how quickly a class B misdemeanor can become something else when a background check is done and a prosecutor can point to previous occurrences and lump them in with a current issue.
Handling DUI Proceeding Stress
Worrying about jail in Texas provided a prosecutor can prove to the judges and jury that you committed a misdemeanor comes under the umbrella of certain things that you don't want to think about. This is especially true if a case hasn't even been filed against you.
It may be dragging on because more evidence than is available could be needed or for any of the reasons described above. The question is what can you do as the person involved to help yourself accept where things are and not panic while you wait? Collecting information is a good way to pull this off. Attorneys, provided you chose to retain one, can help you evaluate the situation and obtain certain information that helps you to relax a bit.
Give Context to the Delays
Above, you got a brief look at some of the things that may be causing the lack of a speedy trial as you would like, but these are all based on experienced that others with DWI challenges may have encountered before being summoned to the courts or not at all. However, this doesn't mean your experience is going to be the same.
With that said, the best thing you can do to rule out the likelihood of some of the more worrying factors is to find out what the hold-up is that may be preventing the county from filing the case and keeping you waiting. Even an expert attorney may not be able to eliminate your wait. However, your lawyer may be able to help you gain some clarity on the issues with your specific situation, which is often more than you could attempt to gain on your own.
You may find that calendars for scheduling aren't syncing up or that your attorney simply requested an adjournment to make things more advantageous for you in the form of a plea setting. There is quite a bit that can happen here, so don't spend your time worrying as if you have the complete picture. Instead, trust the person whom you've hired to defend you since your arrest instead of losing yourself in stress.
Familiarize Yourself with the System
If this is your first DWI or circumstances have never seen you arrested and prosecuted to completion during a hearing, you may not be completely familiar with how hearings or the justice system works where these situations are concerned. You may be worried because you're certain the courts are delaying an inevitable conviction, followed by jail time and the ruining of your criminal record permanently.
In reality, things typically start with an arrest where officers determine you have violated the DWI threshold. This is not just based on an alcohol blood content above 0.8. Sometimes, your behavior is probable cause though the numbers place you under the legal limit.
The arraignment is next and is intended to help you understand the offense you're being booked for, the maximum allowable sentence, and bond conditions, if applicable. The pretrial hearing is next and is meant specifically to prepare everyone by laying out the directions the proceedings are ultimately expected to take.
Your attorney is crucial here as you get expert direction in mapping the way forward and advice on how you should proceed. Additionally, a motion (a document indicating a legal argument) may be put forward by your attorney attempting to persuade the court toward a not guilty stance. For example, one result of this is that certain evidence may need to be ruled out at the later trial. If witnesses are a part of the case against you and demonstrate flawed memory, then this is an example of something that your attorney can use to help you toward a favorable outcome in your fight.
The trial phase is next and this is where people anticipate the worst and stress themselves the most. A big part of the problem boils down to how court hearings are presented in the media. Spectators, for example, are typically not present at these trials which takes much of the tension out of what you would usually see on TV.
Sentencing is where the process culminates and where you should take advantage of a plea bargain if the option is available to you. Note that it's highly unlikely for a defendant who's a first offender to go to jail. You may be tired of hearing this now but you need to consult with your attorney so you can take the right steps to minimize the punishment and the effect that this can have on your life.
Involve Yourself More in Your Affairs with Your Defense Attorney
Attorneys are unique as they offer both a professional and an emotional layer of understanding. With the combination of an unexpected delay, a potential conviction, a judge you can't read, worrying about what this means for your life, and potentially dealing with a driver's license suspension or jail time, anyone would become a bit discombobulated.
Therefore, an attorney is likely to be quite receptive to hearing you ask about how you can assist to defend your case. On your part, you're likely worried about the lack of control you have as a defendant in a situation that you sit at the center of. Of course, the fact that so many other things depend on the result of this court case, it becomes no easier for you. What you're asked to do may boil down to contacting witnesses and other types of simple data collection tasks that can help the case.
It can feel as if you want to be even more involved but you should let the person who is trained to do this take the wheel and not stress over it. Remember that your lawyer is someone who fights with the legal system on your behalf both in and out of court.
When Should You Consider Hiring an Experienced Criminal Defense Lawyer?
Even after hearing that you're getting a free case evaluation, you may still be hesitant to retain a defense lawyer that specializes in DWI cases. However, doing so as soon as possible is advised if you want the best possible result.
When DWI cases are filed by the prosecution, the criminal defense can become more difficult seemingly overnight. You never know when there are actions that can be taken early on that can mitigate against driver's license suspension, dealing with a mandatory ignition interlock device, or other penalties. You may even find that you put yourself in a better position for a plea bargain if you should ever be in a position where you need one granted to you.
During the free consultation, the attorney carefully assesses the parameters of your case, including how field sobriety tests were carried out, how a search warrant and your consent may have played into the matter if any bodily injury was caused, etc.
Not only does this create a better understanding for the attorney, but it also means you can get a professional's feedback on what the future may hold with the prosecutors and what's the best way to proceed. Informal witnesses and expert witnesses may also be contacted to bolster your case if needed. DUI defense becomes necessary more than the vast majority of people may realize, which is why you should take the time to contact yours as soon as you've been arrested and charged with a DWI.
What Does an Attorney-Client Relationship Entail?
Put simply, this concept establishes how lawyers and their clients are expected to approach their relationship during the course of however long the engagement requires. It speaks to various elements that take effect before and even long after you're ever a defendant in a courtroom. Some of the elements it tackles are confidentiality, trust, professionalism, conflict of interest, the flow of information, and more.
After an arrest for a DWI, things can get incredibly stressful as you wait for your court date and to see what the justice system is going to do with you. Depending on the parameters of your case, the typical statute of limitations allows for two or three years before you can no longer be prosecuted. Why not schedule a free initial consultation with Tarrant County TX DWI lawyers from Sparks Law Firm for expert assistance from a qualified team. During this free consultation, expect many of your concerns to be alleviated. Reach out now by calling (817) 381-7846.
They also help with other cases such as what to expect when you get a DUI while in the military.