Intoxication Assault is a very serious offense with potentially steep consequences including prison time and a permanent felony conviction. If you are charged with intoxication assault, it is critical that you speak with an experienced DWI defense attorney as quickly as possible. If your intoxication related offense is charged as a felony – like intoxication assault – it is often important to begin formulating the best defense possible while also preparing for a possible sentencing. The best criminal defense attorneys work for the best result, but also plan for the worst. If you are charged with intoxication assault in the Houston area, there are several things to keep in mind.
Intoxication assault is essentially a DWI involving serious bodily injury. Under Texas Penal Code 49.07, a person commits the crime of intoxication assault if the person operates an aircraft, watercraft, amusement ride or motor vehicle while intoxicated and causes serious bodily injury to another. “Intoxication” is given the same definition as DWI and involves having a blood alcohol content of .08 or higher or losing the “normal use” of your mental or physical faculties. Under Texas Penal Code 49.07(b) “serious bodily” injury means injury that creates a substantial risk of death of causes serious permanent disfigurement or protracted loss or impairment of the function of any bodily member or organ.
If you are charged with intoxication assault, your case will be assigned to a felony court, rather than a county court, due to the fact that intoxication assault (unlike a first-time DWI) is a felony. As discussed below, an allegation of intoxication assault can take many months to fully investigate, so the first time that you are in court, nothing decisive will occur. In most cases, at your first court date, the judge who is handling your case will ask you if you want a court-appointed attorney or intend to hire your own attorney. Also, your judge will likely set bond conditions in your case.
While you are on bond for any criminal offense in Texas, the court will typically set bond conditions that you must follow. It is very important that you understand your bond conditions and follow them closely. If it is alleged that you have violated your bond conditions, then a judge could revoke your bond and put you back in jail or even keep you in jail without bond. In an intoxication assault case filed in Houston, bond conditions can vary significantly depending on the court your case is assigned to. Due to the seriousness of the offense, most courts will order electronic alcohol monitoring and possibly even issue an order that says that you may not drive while the case is pending (your DWI attorney can ask the judge to modify your bond conditions, but most bond conditions are discretionary with the court, meaning that judges have flexibility regarding the bond conditions that they can order). Other bond conditions in an intoxication assault case can include random drug or alcohol tests and restrictions on travelling.
Although there is not usually a need to hire an attorney immediately (and it is a good idea to take your time and research your options) if you have been charged with intoxication assault, one advantage of having representation at your first court date is that your attorney would be able to advocate for you with respect to any bond conditions the court might impose. An effective DWI/Intoxication Assault attorney should understand your life and work situation prior to court to know what bond conditions are the most important to you in order to live a normal life while your case is pending.
One reason that intoxication assault cases can take a long time to resolve is that your DWI attorney must first obtain all of the evidence in the case and conduct his own investigation. In an intoxication assault case, the evidence usually consists of police reports, videos, breath or blood results, documentation from the laboratory regarding the maintenance and reliability of the breath or blood test and medical records. In order to be able to evaluate the evidence thoroughly and present the evidence effectively, it may be necessary for your DWI attorney to obtain the assistance of experts, like blood testing experts or toxicologists.
To effectively challenge a DWI or an intoxication assault allegation, an attorney must thoroughly challenge every step of the investigation. This includes the traffic stop, the interaction with the police officer, the administration and interpretation of police balance tests, the manner that the police advised a defendant of his rights and complied with technical requirements relating to an arrest, the reliability of a breath or blood test, and the police officer’s conclusion that a defendant was intoxicated.
Unlike a regular DWI, in an intoxication assault case, another consideration is causation. This means that there has to be a link between a defendant’s alleged intoxication and the accident that occurred. In other words, just because a defendant is intoxicated (and even guilty of DWI) does not necessarily mean that an accident is a result of the intoxication. For example, if a defendant is driving while intoxicated – but not driving in an unsafe manner – and the victim was driving on the wrong side of the freeway, then it can’t be said that the defendant’s intoxication caused the accident. In this example, the accident would likely have occurred whether or not the defendant was intoxicated and although a defendant might be guilty of DWI, he should not be charged with intoxication assault.
Due to the seriousness of an intoxication assault charge, it is also important that your attorney begin preparing for a possible sentencing hearing. Of course, the goal of a DWI or intoxication assault is to obtain the dismissal of the charges. But while working towards a dismissal, an effective DWI attorney will also begin building up the file to obtain the most lenient sentence possible. In a serious intoxication-related offense, for example, it is sometimes a good idea for a defense attorney to obtain an alcohol evaluation of a client and ask them to begin start attending Alcoholic’s Anonymous (or other alcohol therapy) to show that the client has taken personal responsibility for addressing a potential alcohol problem.
In order to maximize your chances of obtaining an excellent result in an intoxication assault case, it is very important to speak to an experienced DWI attorney as quickly as possible. Although you can’t change the facts of your case, what is in your control is who you hire. DWIs and intoxication assault cases are highly complex and it is necessary to hire an attorney with an understanding of how to effectively handle these cases. If you have been charged with intoxication assault, DWI or any other intoxication-related crime anywhere in the Greater Houston area, call Ceja Law Firm today for a free consultation.