Several news outlets are reporting the details of a defendant-friendly deal from the outgoing Harris County District Attorney. According to those reports, a famous Texas trial lawyer who recently represented the former governor had his DWI summarily dismissed by the DA. Both sides commented about the dismissal, but the reasons given by each are in conflict.
According to the defendant, the prosecution simply did not have enough evidence to get a conviction, and that is why the case was dismissed. In fact, he stated that he should never have been arrested in the first place. But his account is different than that given by the prosecution for why the DWI was dismissed.
The outgoing DA made it a point to personally dismiss the DWI as one of her final decisions in office. According to her, the famous trial lawyer completed a pretrial diversion program, and as a result the case was dismissed. But the papers point out several important facts: One, that typical diversion programs take at least a year to complete, while this one took only eight months, and two, that the judge in this case does not accept diversion programs for DWIs.
This case is causing some to wonder at the reasons why it was dismissed in the manner it was dismissed. But it also illustrates the power that a prosecutor wields over those who are charged with a crime. Discretion is the key word when it comes to prosecutions, and that discretion on who to prosecute, how hard to push a plea deal, and what punishment to ask for all come down to decisions made by imperfect humans.
Pretrial Diversion Programs
This case also gives us the chance to overview the idea of diversion programs and how they apply to DWI cases. In most of the jurisdictions in Texas there are different forms of diversion programs for first misdemeanor offenders, and this extends to DWIs. They are only made available on a case-by-case basis, which calls into question how they are used.
At their core, diversion programs are so called because they divert a prosecution of a crime (like DWI) into an agreement between the prosecutor and defendant. Under these agreements the defendant will agree to live crime-free, attend a class, and complete other parts of the agreement. In exchange, a prosecutor agrees that after a given amount of time, he or she will dismiss the charges and the case will be over.
The advantages of these diversion programs are obvious. The defendant can have a case dismissed and keep a record intact, and the prosecution is not required to go forward with a case that probably should not end in too hard a punishment. For those facing DWI charges for the first time, a diversion program may make a great deal of sense.
So how can you know whether a diversion program is a good idea for you, or if you even qualify? The first step you need to take is to choose the right legal team to defend you against a DWI charge. At The Wilder DWI Defense Firm our team of DWI defenders will help you understand what your legal options are, what you need to do to effectively defend your DWI charges. Contact us today.