By Dallas and Collin County Criminal Defense Lawyer Jeremy F. Rosenthal
The Dallas Morning News is running a series of articles about DWI’s as they relate to the criminal justice system August 14, 15, and 16, 2010. You can read today’s article here.
Regardless of whether you agree or disagree with the article’s point of view it is informative nonetheless as the staff authors Diane Jennings, Selwyn Crawford and Darlean Spangenberger have clearly done their homework in interviewing prosecutors, judges, and criminal defense lawyers alike. What I think they’re missing is that this problem has 10-sides… not just 3.
My chief complaint (this is MY blog after all), is that both yesterday’s and today’s article assume anyone accused of an intoxication offense is, in fact, guilty. From that starting point, it is understandable then that it appears anyone and everyone that gets a result short of a full-fledged flogging is somehow cheating the system. Let’s not forget this is a county known for sending innocent people to prison.
I am glad to see the concept of deferred adjudication enter the conversation, however, as one of the main problems with the Courts dealing with DWI’s is the all-or-nothing position people accused of DWIs face on a daily basis. Giving the accused a middle ground gives them something to lose by fighting the charges and in my opinion would be a major step towards clearing the dockets.
One suggestion by Richard Alpert (a Tarrant County Prosecutor known state-wide as an authority on prosecuting DWI) suggests in today’s article that if the legislature is going to consider deferred for DWI cases that they at least be able to enhance subsequent DWI’s as if the previous deferred was a conviction. Sadly, this is exactly what makes deferred adjudication a trap-door in other cases. Essentially it would be deferred in name only — and as I joke with my clients — it only feels good to get deferred.
But I digress… if you’re interested in the topic, the DMN series is a decent enough read.
*Jeremy Rosenthal is Board Certified in Criminal Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization and licensed by the Supreme Court of Texas. Nothing in this article should be considered legal advice. For legal advice for any specific situation you should contact an attorney directly.