Law Enforcement Agencies Announce Increased DWI Enforcement During Fourth of July Holiday Period

The Fourth of July holiday generally sees a large increase in drivers on the road as people make their way to the lake, or the fireworks show, or wherever else they want to celebrate Independence Day. Knowing that drivers are out in larger numbers, Texas law enforcement agencies often make a point of stepping up their presence in general and their efforts to catch suspected drunk drivers in particular. This year is no different, as the Fort Worth Star-Telegram reports:

“Citizens can expect to see more police presence out on the roadways during the upcoming Independence Day holidays thanks to grant funding from the Texas Department of Transportation Traffic Safety Program. The additional funding will pay overtime salaries for officers to conduct Selective Traffic Enforcement Program (STEP) activities including DWI enforcement as well as speed compliance.”

In addition to the increased presence of police and state troopers, we will certainly see north Texas law enforcement agencies tout “no refusal” periods around the holiday weekend. During these times, judges will be on-call to receive requests for search warrants to compel blood draws from drivers suspected of DWI. The Star-Telegram reports that the STEP DWI enforcement program will be taking place between June 24th through July 5th.

https://www.star-telegram.com/news/local/community/weatherford-star-telegram/wt-news/article157840794.html

These periods of increased DWI enforcement are now a routine part of the holidays in Texas. If you have been arrested and charged with Driving While Intoxicated in Tarrant County, you need to speak with a Fort Worth DWI Attorney. At Blake & Blake LLP, we have handled many Fort Worth DWI cases and have also represented clients accused of DWI in surrounding counties. We know how to help you. And remember, if you have been charged with DWI you only have 15 days to request an ALR hearing or else your drivers’ license will be automatically suspended.

 

Houston Police Officer Indicted by Harris County Grand Jury

A Houston police officer has been indicted by a Harris County grand jury for kicking a suspected burglar who had already been shot and for tampering with evidence in the case. The incident took place in February, but the indictment by the grand jury was just handed down last week.

The officer had hurried to his own home upon learning that a burglary was reportedly in progress. The officer confronted the suspected burglar who was allegedly carrying some of the officers person property from the home. A struggle ensued and the officer shot the suspected burglar.

According to the Dallas Morning News:

“[v]ideo taken by witnesses of the incident indicated that Johnson then kicked Carr while he was down. ‛Officer Johnson delivered a number of blows with his foot by kicking Carr while he was on the ground incapacitated after he’d been shot,’ Harris County District Attorney Kim Ogg said at a news conference.”

Prosecutors also allege that the officer moved the suspected burglar’s tool, a pickle fork, to support the officer’s claim that the burglar had used it to threaten him.

https://www.dallasnews.com/news/texas/2017/06/24/former-houston-cop-indicted-kicking-wounded-burglary-suspect-tampering

This is the second case in the past two weeks of a Harris county law enforcement officer being indicted by a grand jury. A Harris County deputy and her husband were recently indicted on charged related to the death of a man allegedly placed in a chokehold by the deputy’s husband.

While indictments make headlines, it is important to remember that the grand jury’s only function is to determine whether probably cause exists to believe an offense has been committed. A grand jury’s indictment is far from a finding of guilt beyond-a-reasonable-doubt. If you are accused of a felony in Fort Worth, or anywhere in Tarrant County, you should consult with an attorney as soon as possible. A Fort Worth Grand Jury Attorney can help you understand the charges you are facing and help you defend yourself. If you have not yet been indicted, your attorney may be able to present evidence for consideration by the grand jury that can result in a “no bill.” If you need help with a grand jury or any criminal law matter in Tarrant, Dallas, Hood, Parker, Johnson, or any other Texas counties, Blake & Blake LLP can help. Our attorneys are experienced in defending criminal cases and have successfully represented clients accused of felonies. We have a track record of obtaining no bills from grand jury proceedings.

Texas Supreme Court Rejects Bid by Randy Travis to Prevent Release of DWI Arrest Video

Earlier this month, the Texas Supreme Court denied without comment an appeal by country music legend Randy Travis attempting to prevent public release of his 2012 DWI arrest video. Mr. Travis had filed a lawsuit against the Texas Department of Public Safety and the Attorney General seeking an order to prevent release of the arrest video. In 2016, the Third Court of Appeals in Austin had ruled that the video was a public record and had to be released. By denying Mr. Travis’s petition for review, the Supreme Court allowed the ruling of the Third Court of Appeals to stand.

It is worth noting that Mr. Travis filed a civil lawsuit against the Texas DPS and the Attorney General seeking to prevent release of the video. This was not part of the criminal case against Mr. Travis. And it is for that reason that the final say rested with the Texas Supreme Court and not the state’s highest criminal court, the Court of Criminal Appeals.

This is not a surprising result, as it is clear under Texas law that arrest videos are public records and it is equally clear that public records are subject to disclosure to news media and others. We suspect that Mr. Travis and his lawyers did not expect to be able to prevent release of the video but were instead hoping to drag out the process as long as possible so that when the video was finally released the news media and the internet would have moved on to other stories.

https://www.mystatesman.com/news/court-refuses-block-release-randy-travis-dwi-video

If you have been charged with DWI in Tarrant County (including Fort Worth, Arlington, Keller, Grapevine, Colleyville, Hurst, Euless, Bedford, Haltom City and many other municipalities), you need a Tarrant County Criminal Defense Attorney with experience handling DWI cases. At Blake & Blake LLP, we are experienced Fort Worth DWI Attorneys who can help you achieve the best outcome in your case. Give us a call at 817-440-4444 or you can contract us via email at [email protected] or [email protected].

Rate of DWI Arrests in Austin “No Refusal” Weekend Said to be “Exponentially Higher” Than Prior Weekend Initiatives

“No refusal” weekends are a popular tactic employed by Texas law enforcement. As we have posted about before, these programs basically involve a heightened law enforcement presence on roads and highways combined with judges standing by to sign off on search warrants to compel blood samples from drivers who refuse to submit to breath or blood tests.

The recent Memorial Day “no refusal” period enforced by Austin police has led to many arrests of drivers suspected of driving while intoxicated. According to Patch.com:

“The latest iteration of ‛no refusal’ netted 166 drunk drivers—a number exponentially greater than previous weekend initiatives. The most recent DWI crackdown was in effect each night between the hours of 9 p.m. and 5 a.m. from May 26 to June 12. Last year, 107 people were arrested during ‛no refusal’ initiatives for Memorial Day and the ROT Rally, police noted.

“The 164 arrests in the last ‛no refusal’ period (albeit a conflated tally that combines totals from Memorial Day and ROT periods together) was an exponentially greater level during the Superbowl version conducted from Feb. 3-6, when 50 DWI arrests were made.”

I don’t think “exponentially” is the right word here – it means something is growing more and more rapidly, not simply that one number is bigger than another – but it is clear that Austin police were much more active in the recently reported “no refusal” period.

https://patch.com/texas/downtownaustin/austin-police-make-160-plus-dwi-arrests-during-memorial-day-rot-rally-period

If you have been charged with DWI in Tarrant County (including Fort Worth, Arlington, Keller, Grapevine, Colleyville, Hurst, Euless, Bedford, Haltom City and many other municipalities), you need a Texas Criminal Defense Attorney with experience handling DWI cases. At Blake & Blake LLP, we are experienced Fort Worth DWI Lawyers who can help you achieve the best outcome in your case. Give us a call at 817-440-4444 or you can contract us via email at [email protected] or [email protected].

Hays County, Texas Case Illustrates Felony Murder Rule

The term “felony murder” is often confusing to non-lawyers. Everyone knows there is no misdemeanor murder, so isn’t murder always a felony? And the answer is yes, murder is always a felony. But the tricky part here is that the term “felony” in felony murder is not referring to the degree of the offense, it is referring to a legal doctrine that basically says if someone dies during the commission of a felony, the person committing the felony can be charged with the crime we call murder. Every other definition of murder involves a culpable mental state; in felony murder, the commission of the underlying felony is taken as evidence of the necessary mental state. Felony murder is specifically defined in the Texas Penal Code Section 19.02(b)(3) (emphasis added):

A person commits an offense if he:

(1)  intentionally or knowingly causes the death of an individual;
(2)  intends to cause serious bodily injury and commits an act clearly dangerous to human life
that causes the death of an individual;  or
(3)  commits or attempts to commit a felony, other than manslaughter, and in the course of and in furtherance of the commission or attempt, or in immediate flight from the commission or attempt, he commits or attempts to commit an act clearly dangerous to human life that causes
the death of an individual.

A case from Buda, Texas gives an example of how Texas prosecutors can charge people accused of DWI with felony murder. DWI is normally a misdemeanor, but if someone has been convicted at least twice for misdemeanor DWI, each following DWI charge is a felony. In addition, DWI with a passenger under 15 years of age is also a felony. If someone dies in a car crash where the driver is accused of a felony-level DWI offense, prosecutors in Texas can also seek felony murder charges.

Discussing the Buda man’s case, Hays County District Attorney Wes Mau makes the typical argument for a murder charge in such a case:

“That’s a person who has been through the system a couple of times, has undoubtedly been told about the dangers of drinking and driving and has probably been through programs about how people are harmed by this,” said Mau. “Besides a DWI, he’s committing a felony and under our murder statute if a person is committing a felony and does an act clearly dangerous to human life, that’s a murder if it actually causes the death of another individual.”

https://kxan.com/2017/06/14/buda-man-charged-with-murder-after-2016-dwi-crash/

Anyone charged with a criminal offense in Texas needs to speak with a Texas Criminal Defense Attorney. If they cannot afford to hire their own attorney, they must ask that the court appoint an attorney to represent them. As with any criminal charge, DWI charges are serious and only by consulting with an experienced Texas DWI Attorney can you protect your rights.

Tiger Woods DWI Update

Tiger Woods was arrested last month for suspicion of driving while intoxicated after police found him asleep behind the wheel of his vehicle in Jupiter, Florida. When the news first broke, we wondered whether Mr. Woods had taken a breathalyzer or submitted a blood sample for alcohol testing. As it turned out, Mr. Woods did take a breathalyzer which shows a blood alcohol content (BAC) or 0.0. We have now learned from the police report that Mr. Woods told police he had taken Xanax. In addition to Xanax, Mr. Woods had been prescribed Vicodin, Solarex, Vioxx, and Turox, according to the police report.

In Texas, as in Florida, being impaired by legal, prescription drugs can still lead to a DWI conviction. In fact, it is not uncommon for police to eschew the breathalyzer and prefer blood tests precisely because the blood test may disclose the presence of drugs (legal or illegal). As Mr. Woods’s case illustrates, police do not have to show any amount of alcohol to arrest you for DWI. Moreover, because of the interactions between many common pain killers and sleep aids with alcohol, a low BAC with the presence of other prescription drugs can be just as damaging for a defendant as a high BAC.

Mr. Woods is to be arraigned on July 5. We do not yet know how he and his attorneys intend to handle the case. As some DWI attorneys have said, the statement that Mr. Woods issued following his arrest may have hurt his chances of avoiding conviction. His statement tried to make clear to the public that he had not been drinking – something we now know was true – but in doing so he admitted to being under the influence of his prescription drugs. We are sure that Mr. Woods has the best DWI Attorneys working on his case, but even they may have a hard time avoiding a conviction at this point.

https://www.upi.com/Top_News/US/2017/06/10/Tiger-Woods-told-police-he-was-on-Xanax-during-DUI-arrest/1141497100692/

If you have been charged with DWI or any crime, you need an experienced Texas Criminal Defense Attorney to obtain the best results. Give us a call at 817-440-4444 so that we can help you.

Texas Criminal Defense Attorney Discusses Discovery of Evidence in Criminal Cases

KSWO Channel 7 in Lawton, Oklahoma has an new article discussing evidence in criminal cases. Specifically, the article includes a discussion by a Texas attorney of what evidence the prosecution is required to turn over in criminal cases.

https://www.kswo.com/story/35348849/dallas-criminal-lawyer-on-what-evidence-the-defense-gets-to-see-before-trial

The lawyer describes several misconceptions that criminal accuseds and criminal defendants make. First, they assume that the evidence turned over by the state is the only evidence that can be used against them. As the criminal defense lawyer notes: the state is not required to tell defendants or their attorneys everything that a witness will testify about. Second, the state is not required to tell the defense counsel how it intends to use a given piece of evidence.

A great summary is included that makes clear why anyone accused of a crime must have a criminal defense attorney:

It takes an experienced criminal defense attorney to fill in these blanks, but even the best lawyers cannot anticipate everything that will happen at trial. The best defense lawyers know that there will be unexpected testimony and surprises at every trial, and they take that into account in evaluating the case as well as preparing for trial. There are almost never depositions in criminal cases, and many witnesses will not talk to the defense before trial, so a defense lawyer may not have a great sense of how the witness will come across during testimony. Sometimes, a witness turns out to be more credible than you expected. Sometimes, a witness might be less certain about what really happened or admit to having a poor memory of the event. Good lawyers know trials involve uncertainty. They have to be able to adjust their approach and strategy when there are surprises.

Texas State Representative Arrested For Suspicion of DWI Following Single-Car Accident

A member of the Texas House of Representatives has been arrested for suspicion of driving while intoxicated this week. State Rep. Victoria Neave, a Democrat from Dallas, was arrested on Tuesday night following a single-car accident. Incidentally, Rep. Neave is a DFW-area DWI attorney herself.

According to NBC5 DFW:

“Freshman Texas State Rep. Victoria Neave (D-Dallas) told police ‘I love you and I will fight for you’ as she was arrested on suspicion of driving while intoxicated following a single-vehicle crash in Dallas Tuesday night.

“Dallas police said Neave, 36, drove her BMW into a tree near the intersection of Abrams Parkway and La Vista Drive at about 11:30 p.m.”

https://www.nbcdfw.com/news/local/Texas-House-Representative-Arrested-for-DWI-in-Dallas-426995793.html

Anyone charged with driving while intoxicated in Texas needs to consult with a criminal defense attorney. It is important to act quickly because you only have 15 days following a breathalyzer refusal of failure to request an ALR hearing to prevent suspension of your driver’s license. It is often not possible to prevent license suspension, but the ALR hearing is an important tool for looking at the state’s evidence against you and gives your attorney a chance to nail down the police officer’s version of events. So if you are charged with driving while intoxicated in Tarrant or any surrounding counties, call Blake & Blake LLP. We are Fort Worth DWI Lawyers who can help you achieve the best results in your case.

Harris County Deputy and Husband Indicted for Murder Following Altercation Outside Denny’s Restaurant

A Harris county deputy and her husband have been indicted by a Harris county grand jury for murder in the death of a man following an altercation at a Denny’s restaurant. Deputy Chauna Thompson and her husband Terry Thompson were videotaped restraining John Hernandez, with Terry Thompson applying a choke hold and laying on top of the smaller Hernandez.

News reports say that Terry Thompson saw Mr. Hernandez urinating outside the Denny’s and told him to stop. A physical altercation then occurred leading to the scene shown in the video where Mr. Thompson has Mr. Hernandez pinned to the ground and in a choke hold. At some point Chauna Thompson, the Harris county deputy, arrived and is seen in the video helping her husband restrain Mr. Hernandez. Denny’s employees who witnessed the event told reporters that they told Mr. Thompson to let Mr. Hernandez go when they saw him turning purple.

According to Harris County District Attorney Kim Ogg, the Thompsons declined to testify before the grand jury. This is not surprising as grand jury defense attorneys advise almost all people facing indictment against testifying. Too many things can go wrong for an accused in this situation, and because the standard to indict (probable cause to believe an offense has occurred) is so low, it is unlikely that an accused’s testimony will prevent indictment.

https://abc13.com/news/couple-indicted-for-murder-in-deadly-dennys-fight/2071281/

For anyone facing indictment, it is important to consult with a criminal defense attorney. In Tarrant county and other Texas counties, a defense attorney can provide evidence to be presented to the grand jury. While most grand jury attorneys will advise almost every criminal accused against testifying themselves, it is possible to present affidavits or point out aspects of the evidence that do not support indictment. If you are facing indictment in Tarrant county, call Blake & Blake LLP at 817-440-4444. We are Fort Worth Grand Jury Attorneys and can help you determine the best strategy to avoid indictment if possible or to prepare your best defense against the charges if you are indicted.

More Professional Athlete Driving While Intoxicated (DWI) News

A few days ago, we noted reports that Tiger Woods had been arrested for suspicion of driving while intoxicated in Florida. We wondered whether Woods had taken a breathalyzer or blood test because it was not clear from initial reports. As it turns out, Woods took a breathalyzer and blew a 0.00. In a statement, Woods blamed his apparently impaired condition on prescription medications.

ABC News spoke with Katie Phang, a former Florida prosecutor, who said “Tiger’s statement was a bad idea. He should not have said anything,” Phang said. “Now, he can’t claim that he was not DUI and just was tired from a long day.”

https://abcnews.go.com/Sports/wireStory/criminal-expert-tiger-woods-made-mistake-issuing-statement-47755229

And in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, one of the newest Dallas Cowboys, Nolan Carroll, was arrested in Dallas for suspicion of DWI. Carroll had reportedly attended a “welcome to Dallas” party at an Uptown Dallas bar and was arrested following a traffic stop at 2:20 a.m. Based on NFL rules, Carroll will be suspended for two games if he is convicted of DWI.

https://touchdownwire.usatoday.com/2017/05/29/dallas-cowboys-cb-nolan-carroll-arrested-for-driving-while-intoxicated/

These high-profile examples should serve as a reminder to everyone that drinking and driving is a bad idea. Take a cab, use Uber or Lyft, call a friend. Any inconvenience in getting a ride or retrieving your car the next day will pale in comparison to the inconvenience of getting a DWI. If you have been charged with driving while intoxicated in the DFW area, you need to hire an experienced Dallas-Fort Worth DWI lawyer. Call the Blake & Blake LLP at 817-440-4444 for help with your case.