Every week dozens of people are arrested in Pasadena Texas and charged with DWI. Although most DWIs are charged as misdemeanors they are still treated seriously under the laws of Texas and can leave a terrible stain on a person’s record that can impact work, housing, or immigration status. DWIs can be very technical cases that involve science and specialized police procedures. As a result, it is important to hire an experienced DWI attorney to obtain the best possible result after a DWI arrest in Pasadena.
What happens if a person is arrested for DWI in Pasadena Texas?
Depending on the police agency involved, if a person is arrested for DWI in Pasadena, the person may be taken to the Pasadena Police Department jail where breath or blood testing might take place. After that, the person will typically be taken to Downtown Houston and processed at the Joint Processing Center (JPC) where they will have a bond set, typically within 12-18 hours although sometimes it can take longer. For first-time DWIs, many defendants will receive free bonds (known as personal recognizance or “PR” bond) and will be released from jail without having to pay any money. If a person has a significant criminal history, or was involved in a felony DWI, then a magistrate judge will set a bond amount that must be paid before the person is released from jail.
In order to pay a bond for a person arrested for DWI, the entire amount must be paid at the Harris County Bail Bond Window at 700 N. San Jacinto, Houston TX 77002. Alternatively, the person’s family or friends can contact a bail bondsman who will charge a percentage of the total bond amount (typically 10%) as a fee and then post bond on behalf of the defendant. The advantage of posting bond yourself is that the entire amount is returned to you after the case, whereas you do not receive the fee back from the bail bondsman.
How are DWIs charged in Texas?
Most people arrested for DWI in Pasadena TX are charged with a first-time DWI. First-time DWIs are considered Class “B” misdemeanors, punishable by up to 180 days in jail and a $2000 fine. Where a first-time DWI involves a breath or blood test of .15 or higher, it will be charged as a Class “A” misdemeanor, punishable by up to a year in jail and a $4000 fine. A second DWI is also a Class “A” misdemeanor. DWIs can be charged as felonies in the following situations:
- Driving with a child in the car
- DWI third offense
- DWI with an accident involving serious injury
- DWI with a fatality
How are DWIs defended?
A DWI attorney should have a clear strategy for defending a case and maximizing a person’s chances of a dismissal or an acquittal. The defense of any criminal case should typically start with challenging the facts. In DWIs, most experienced attorneys will work to challenge whether the State can prove that a defendant was intoxicated. This is done by attacking the police investigation and the officer’s conclusions, as well as the accuracy of any breath or blood test. In some cases, other elements of a DWI case are challenged, such as the legality of a police traffic stop, or whether the police can prove that a defendant was actually driving.
How can I keep a DWI off my record?
It is possible to keep a DWI off of your record. The goal of a DWI should be a dismissal or verdict of “not guilty” at trial. If the case is dismissed, or you are found “not guilty,” then you would be eligible for an expunction of your records. Under Texas law, an expunction of a DWI is the best possible result as it results in all records of the DWI arrest held by any agency to be destroyed. After a DWI is expunged, a record of the DWI will not appear on most criminal history searches and you can even legally deny the existence of the arrest in most instances. An expunction of a DWI is always the ultimate goal after a DWI arrest in Pasadena or anywhere else.
What if an undocumented person is arrested for DWI in Pasadena TX?
If a person is undocumented and arrested for DWI, it is important that everything possible is done to ensure the person is released from jail as quickly as possible. Although the Harris County or Pasadena jails do not directly inquire into a person’s legal status, there are immigration agents at the Harris County jail who may place an “immigration hold” on a defendant if they discover that they are undocumented. An immigration hold means that a person in jail will be transferred to immigration custody after their criminal case is resolved and will not be released from the Harris County jail even if bond is paid.
Fortunately, immigration holds are relatively rare after a Pasadena DWI arrest. As noted above, most defendants charged with first-time DWI will be released from jail without family or friends having to pay any money. However, if an undocumented person is not granted a PR bond, it is very important that bond is posted as quickly as possible. Generally, the longer a person waits in jail, the higher the risk that an immigration hold will be issued.
Once an undocumented person is released from jail, they do not have to worry about being detained due to their immigration status while the case is going on. Although a defendant will have a court date in a Harris County Court within a few days of being released from jail, Harris County courts do not inquire about a person’s immigration status or detain defendants who are undocumented.
How do I look for a Pasadena Texas DWI attorney?
There is a lot to consider when hiring a DWI attorney. As noted above, DWIs are specialized cases and it is very important to hire an attorney with the specialized knowledge in DWI investigations and breath and blood testing to obtain the best possible result. It is also important to hire an attorney that is actually a trial lawyer. The unfortunate reality is that many attorneys who advertise themselves as DWI attorneys are “plea lawyers” who do not go to trial, even when a trial is in their client’s best interest. It is also important to consider an attorney’s familiarity with the local courts, communication skills and price range.
Attorney Jose Ceja regularly defends clients charged with DWI in the Pasadena, Texas area. Mr. Ceja is a former prosecutor who has regularly obtained dismissals and verdicts of “not guilty” in trials, including DWIs. He has spent hundreds of hours studying the science of breath and blood testing and is certified to administer police balance tests. If you are arrested for DWI in Pasadena or anywhere in the Greater Houston area, call Ceja Law Firm today for a free consultation.