Suffering the embarrassment of an arrest for driving while under the influence in Galveston is no laughing matter. In fact, if you’ve been found guilty in a court of the law, you may be subject to punishments that include:
- Drug/Alcohol Counseling and Rehabilitation
- Community Service
- Driver’s License Suspension
To get the best outcome from your experience you’ll need the help of an experienced DWI attorney like Amber Spurlock, to guide you through the ins and outs of the Galveston County criminal court system.
In the meantime, here’s a timeline of what you can expect at every stage of your case.
The First Stage: The Arrest
The police must have believe that you are intoxicated in order to conduct a Breathalyzer test and make an arrest. If they’ve determined that they have sufficient information to take you into custody, you will be told your Miranda rights.
The basics are as follows:
- You have the right to remain silent
- Anything you say will be used against you
- You have the right to an attorney
After you’ve been taken into police custody, your information will be entered into their database and you will be booked into a facility. All of your personal effects will be confiscated, inventoried, and stored. You will also be subject to a strip search, your picture will be taken, and you will be fingerprinted.
Once this is complete, you will have the option to place a phone call, given a bail amount, and a court date will be set. This usually within 2 days. If you’re arrested for DWI during the weekend, this may take a little longer.
After you have appeared before the judge, you will be told your bail amount. At this point, you will be allowed to post bail in one of two ways:
- Through a bonding agency, for a reduced upfront cost
- Pay the full amount set by the court
The Second Stage: The Arraignment
You will be told of your charges during the arraignment. You will also be notified of your rights and you can choose to enter one of four pleas:
- Guilty: You admit to the charges
- Not guilty: You did not commit the offense
- No contest: You are neither admitting guilt or contesting the charges
- Mute plea: A not guilty plea that gives you the option to argue any issues with the criminal process up to that point
At this stage of the litigation process, we encourage you to remain silent when speaking directly to the media, law enforcement, or any other authority – unless your lawyer is present. You may think that you can talk your way out of the situation or convince them of your innocence (a natural reaction) but this may cause more damage that you realize.
The Third Stage: Court Date and Discovery
After the initial arrest, the government will begin conducting their own investigation into your case and they turn over this information to the defense during the discovery process. The attorney will then being analyzing the data to determine if any procedures were violated.
Some of them include:
- A lack of probable cause
- Failing to provide instruction while operating the Breathalyzer or during Field Sobriety Tests
You would be surprised to learn how often these violations are uncovered so it’s important that you get all the documents related to your case to determine whether you expert testimony is needed. You will have several court dates during this time and while you may just want the whole ordeal to be over, it may actually benefit you to be patient. The extra time that multiple court dates afford will allow Amber Spurlock and her team to conduct a comprehensive investigation of all the facts and relevant legal issues that pertain to your specific case.
The Fourth Stage: Trial or Plea Bargain
After the discovery process, but before your actual trial, it’s possible that your case can be resolved with a plea bargain between you and the State. If you decide to take advantage of this option, you will have to put in a guilty plea, but this is usually for a lesser charge like an open container violation or reckless deriving. As a result, either certain charges pertaining to the case may be dismissed or you may get a more lenient sentence.
If you choose to go ahead with the trial, you will make your first appearance before the jury in the same court that you were charged in. During this part of the process, the jury will examine all the evidence from both your lawyer and the prosecution to determine whether they believe that you committed the crime in question. After all the arguments have been presents, they are responsible for decided whether you indeed are guilty or not guilty.