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Best DWI Lawyer in Houston, Texas Questions

Best DWI Lawyer in Houston Texas Questions Answered - Brian Foley

"These are the best questions to ask a DWI lawyer in Houston, Texas.

Question number one: What are the potential penalties for a DWI conviction in the state of Texas? Well, if it's a first-time offense, it's a Class B misdemeanor. That means it could be up to 180 days in jail, up to a two thousand dollar fine. If it's a second offense, it's a Class A, that's up to a year in jail. If it's a third-time DWI, that means it's a third-degree felony, two to ten years in prison. So, very important distinctions here. Those are the potential penalties, but worse than that, it can be just the conviction itself on your record that is the thing we're trying to fight the most for our average client on a DWI first. We're not worried about jail time; what we're worried about is that criminal record.

Question number two: How experienced is the attorney in handling DWI cases specifically in Texas? That's a really important question. DWI is not like every other crime out there. There's a lot of scientific evidence relating to blood tests, relating to the standardized field sobriety tests. You have to be kind of an expert in this. Now, the State of Texas doesn't have a certification or a distinction that they authorize for lawyers like board certification, for example. I'm board-certified in criminal law. There is no board certification for DWI law in the State of Texas. Only, so you want to look to other factors like experience as a prosecutor or experience as a defense attorney in handling these kinds of cases. You're looking for somebody who does it all the time.

Question number three: Can the lawyer provide references or case outcomes from previous DWI cases? Well, you can't give out names. We're not going to point you towards a specific judgment to go look at it or something like that. But you can look at Google reviews. You can ask, 'Have you ever gotten a DWI dismissed in this jurisdiction?' But the lawyer, in general, they want to know about your case because every case is different. Some cases are a lot easier to win than others. DWI happens to be somewhat of a political crime because of the nature of the Mothers Against Drunk Driving movement, things like that. Prosecutors are far less likely to dismiss these cases unless you have a very strong advocate in your corner.

Question number four: Do they have specialized experience or do they specialize in DWI defense? That's a great question to ask an attorney. You know, both myself and Luis Baez here at Houston Criminal Defense Attorneys, PLLC, we were both former prosecutors and members of the vehicular crimes team which only handled DWI cases in a fatal quality crash or a serious bodily injury type case. That means intoxication manslaughter or intoxication assault. And so, getting that specialized training and knowledge is critical to being able to help you on the other side.

Question number five: Are there any particular strategies or approaches that the attorney uses to defend a DWI case in Texas? Well, the first strategy in every criminal case is going to be determining, did the officers have reasonable suspicion or probable cause to make the detention and then the arrest? If they don't have that, we're going to be doing a suppression hearing, trying to get all the evidence suppressed in your case dismissed. After that, you want to look at records from blood tests, breath tests, things like that, and you're going to be trying to do what's called a disconnect defense. If you've got an alcohol level that's very high and somebody on video who does not look very bad, well then that is a disconnect between those two pieces of evidence, and it very well could lead to a not guilty verdict.

Alright, question number six: When do you go to trial versus negotiating a plea bargain for a DWI case? Well, if we can negotiate a plea bargain that gets your case dismissed and expunged from your record, then there's no need to go to a trial. When you can get a result that you're in control of through the plea bargain process, that's almost always better. So, here at Houston Criminal Defense Attorneys, PLLC, we will go to trial on a case when we need to, but if we can negotiate it instead of having to take you through the risk of a trial, then we'll do it every time.

Question number seven: What is the lawyer's success rate in achieving a reduced charge or dismissed case for DWI clients in Texas? This is a really good question. It's a question we get a lot, but most lawyers do not keep track of this information. I'll tell you why. It is an extreme range of facts that can happen in every different case. And so, oftentimes, the better lawyers have the more difficult cases, people who are in a very tight situation, a difficult situation. They're going to go and get that better lawyer because they know they need it. You know, if you have a very easy situation with your case, you may think you don't need that good of a lawyer. You know, I would suggest to you that you always want to have the best lawyer you can. There's nothing more expensive than a cheap lawyer. That's an old saying that we have in the profession, that's true. And so when you're asking somebody's success rate, it really needs to be considered against what type of a case was it. Now, you know, our law firm, when we have a low blood test, our client looks good on video, we've got a really, really high success rate, you know. But what does success mean when the facts are really against your client? Well, sometimes it's getting a reduced charge instead of a complete dismissal, or sometimes it's avoiding any kind of jail time and just paying a fine. So for our clients, we don't settle the case until we think we have the best outcome that's possible under the specific facts of that case. And if we don't get that in a plea bargain, then we go to get it at a trial.

Question number eight: Can you charge a contingency fee as a criminal lawyer? And the answer here is no. The State Bar will not allow you as a lawyer to charge a fee and say you won't pay unless we win your case. It doesn't happen. It does happen in personal injury law but not in criminal law.

Question number nine, and this is a really important one: Does the attorney have experience within the specific Texas court or jurisdiction where your DWI case is going to be heard? That is really important. After being a prosecutor in four different jurisdictions and practicing in multiple, multiple counties across the state, every county does things a little bit differently. And I will also say every county thinks that their way of doing it is the only way that it's done in all the other places. So having a lawyer who understands your county is really, really important. You know, myself, I was a former Chief Prosecutor in Harris County, which is the jurisdiction for Houston, Texas. So, very intimately familiar with the court systems there. We also practice a lot in Montgomery, Brazoria, Fort Bend, and all the surrounding counties. And so having somebody with that local knowledge, I think, is really important.

Question number 10: Is the lawyer familiar and up-to-date with the latest DWI laws and regulations specific to Texas? That's a great question you want to ask. Another shortcut for all these questions is, 'Is your attorney board-certified in criminal law?' Because the Board of Texas Legal Specialization asks all these questions for you. They require attorneys to have updated continuing legal education hours that demonstrate mastery, both at trial and through recommendations from peers, judges, and other lawyers who've worked with or against them. It's a really good way to determine if the lawyer you're talking to is any good or not. If they're board-certified, you can rest assured that they're a pretty good lawyer. If you have a question, though, and you're not sure, if they say they're board-certified but you have doubts, ask them more questions about your offense. Ask them what they've achieved in similar cases. They should be able to provide you with information, including relevant legal codes. For example, the Texas Penal Code 4904 is the section that talks about DWI, but 4909e is the section that deals with enhanced offenses for DWI. If they've never had to look that up, then they probably haven't handled many DWI cases. Alright, everybody, thanks for watching. Don't forget to like and subscribe. Hit the bell for notifications, and we will see you next time.

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