One prosecutor in Texas is more than willing to take DWI cases to trial. It is being reported that a prosecutor out of Victoria County refuses to take a plea agreement from anybody who is charged with DWI. This strong stance against accepting pleas has backlogged the court system in that county and frustrated at least some judges, defense attorneys, and defendants.
The idea that a prosecutor would not want to plea out a case and instead go to trial seems unlikely, but that is exactly what is happening in Victoria County. The issue came to a head as four different DWI cases hit the court of appeals and the court was charged with deciding whether the prosecutor’s actions were warranted under the law.
Facts and Background of Cases
The primary case involved a man who decided to plead guilty to DWI charges. The man in this case wanted to get his case over with, plead to the misdemeanor charges, and move on with his life. But the prosecutor’s office would not let that happen. At the sentencing hearing the prosecution informed the court that they wanted a jury trial, as is the prosecution’s right under Texas law.
The trial judge overruled the state’s objections and slated the case for sentencing. The argument from the court and defense attorneys is that the right of the state to proceed to trial on a case is for felony cases, not misdemeanors. In making its ruling the court focused on several important points:
- Sending every case to trial, whether the party pleads guilty or not, adds additional and needless cost to the county’s taxpayers;
- The prosecution’s stance on DWI cases was nothing more than a sham and pageantry;
- The practice of taking every misdemeanor to trial was wrecking the orderly system of justice in the county.
These were not the only reasons the court used to deny the state’s motion.
State Has Right to Trial
The state objected to the ruling and appealed its case. The court of appeals in this case was not sympathetic to the arguments made by the court and sent the case back to the trial level to be taken up in front of a jury just as the prosecution demanded.
In their ruling, the court of appeals cited Texas court and statutory law to overrule the trial court judge. Under Texas law, not only is the defendant in a criminal case entitled to a jury trial, but the state is also entitled to have a jury trial and must waive that right before sentencing.
Obviously, this stance has created a backlog of cases in that particular court system. The prosecutors themselves must judge how such a move will impact their cases in the future. But for now both sides will have to waive their right to a jury trial before the court can hand down a sentence.
Taking Your Case to Trial
Like the prosecutors in Victoria County, at the Wilder DWI Defense Firm we have no fear in taking any DWI case to trial. That said, every case must be evaluated and investigated before that decision is made. We are just the firm that your case deserves. If you have been charged with DWI in the Dallas area, contact us.