The state of Texas has some of the strictest laws when it comes to driving while intoxicated. An arrest and conviction for driving while intoxicated, or DWI, may ultimately result in major sentences that includes jail time, long probations, and monetary fines, as well as other potential punishments—things from community service to DWI education to monitoring, and more. Furthermore, the negative cost of a DWI in a social context is also significant—it will greatly impact your lifestyle, relationships, and your pocket-book. Because of this, it is vital that you contact an experienced criminal defense attorney to advise you of your options if you are arrested and charged with a DWI in Texas.
One of the options you might have if you are facing Texas DWI charges is a pretrial diversion program. Pretrial diversion programs in Texas may enable you to take responsibility for the offense without the stress and worry of ending up with a DWI conviction. Read on to learn a little about pretrial diversion programs in Texas and how participation in such a program might help in your case.
The pretrial diversion program in Texas is a voluntary program offered by the prosecuting agency for offenders charged with misdemeanors and felonies; it offers them a second chance of sorts. And, if successfully completed, results in a dismissal of the charges and an opportunity to even expunge the arrest from your criminal record! In the case of a DWI, it is intended to help rehabilitate any offender who is eligible to participate in the program. To fight the rise in DWI arrests for alcohol-related accidents, the state of Texas has pursued several different initiatives and developed a variety of programs over the years. One plan that Texas prosecuting offices have implemented in several counties across the state is the pre-trial diversion program.
A pretrial diversion program provides for a suitably judicious level (read: probation-lite) of supervision for some first-time DWI offenders in Texas. The program and its requirements are outlined in a contract between an offender and the local police department, court, or district attorney’s office that oversees it; it states that the offender must successfully complete the specified requirements of the program over a set time, with the aim of having the case dismissed. Participation in a pretrial diversion program requires that the prosecutor halts the case, so the defendant can complete the conditions of the program. It allows for prosecution to be avoided while still providing a way for the offender to take responsibility for their crimes and make amends and restitution as required.
Pretrial diversion programs in Texas for DWI offenders have many eligibility requirements; there are specific qualifying criteria that must be met to determine whether an offender is a good fit for a pretrial diversion program. These criteria might (but not necessarily) include such things as having no prior arrest record, accepting responsibility for the current offense, agreeing to report monthly to a probation officer, submitting to drug testing when requested, being employed or enrolled full-time in an accredited school/education program, committing no new offenses between the DWI arrest and the approval for participation in the diversion program, and other similar conditions. The program eligibility requirements often vary: they depend upon the judge assigned to the case or the court in which the case would have been prosecuted—the program in one county may have different provisions than that in a different county in Texas. (Note: even if an offender meets the diversion program’s eligibility requirements, he or she still might not be approved for the program. A competent criminal defense attorney can explain this in more detail, and advise as to the best steps to take to gain admission to the program).
Pretrial diversion programs in Texas will be tailored to each offender—programs that fit one case do not always fit another case—and the requirements of the program will vary depending on the charges and potential rehabilitative needs of each offender. Most Texas pretrial diversion programs will last for six months to a year (though some might be longer), involve completion of community service, require completion of alcohol and/or drug education classes, order attendance at counseling, enforce reporting to a probation officer, and potentially necessitate permission to leave the state. The exact parameters of a participant’s program will be determined based on the offender’s background and the circumstances of the DWI arrest.
Once a DWI offender successfully completes a pretrial diversion program in Texas, he or she can have his or her case dismissed; the experienced attorney representing the offender will present the case and offer proof of program completion to seek the dismissal. After the case is dismissed, the offender usually becomes eligible for the expunction of that DWI arrest and charge from his or her record. His or her attorney will determine the offender’s eligibility for criminal record expunction and handle the legal processes to get it accomplished. (Note: unlike other diversion-type programs, such as deferred adjudication, if a DWI charge is expunged from the record after completion of a pretrial diversion program, the offender’s record becomes genuinely clean—if he or she is granted an expunction, he or she can then lawfully deny that the arrest ever took place and that the criminal case ever existed.)
If you have been charged with a DWI in Texas and find yourself in need of professional legal representation, consulting with an experienced attorney who is familiar with such charges is your best chance to fight them. The experienced and qualified legal team at Erskine Law can help you in the Austin, Texas area. Brian Erskine is a caring and competent attorney who will help you understand the charges against you and discuss the legal options you have to overcome those charges. If an immediate dismissal of the DWI charges against you is not an option, Brian will provide valuable legal guidance as to how to proceed in your case, including discussing the possibility of participation in a pretrial diversion program. If you choose to apply for the program, he will help you navigate the process. For a free consultation and more information about the legal services available from the knowledgeable and skilled team at Erskine Law, contact them any time. Criminal defense attorney Brian Erskine is ready to fight for you.