I confess to being a little bit of a "True Believer" when it comes to criminal defense. My close colleagues and I do our best to humanize our clients, many of whom have done stupid things, and try to make others relate to their human frailty. Everyone is frail, even prosecutors, even police officers, even judges (and some defense lawyers). In our clients, human flaws are most often the root of criminal charges, that people are too selfish about their actions, or implusive due to desperation or financial stress, or influenced by alcohol or drugs, jealousy, mental illness. A good criminal defense lawyer reminds us that we are all imperfect, and asks us to view the world through the eyes of the PERSON that is his client, as his reality exists. Whether you know it or not, we all know or are related to someone who has done something that amounts to a felony, whether or not they were ever caught or charged. And frankly, you might even think they are a pretty decent person, the kind of people you'd be friends or family with. That's part of what makes this job doable instead of unbearable, keeping things reasonable, at a minimum.
Every time I meet with a new client on a DWI case, I am reminded of all the different things I think people should know about DWI, and what they actually know. The State spends a great deal of money to give you the impression that you have no rights or choices when you are suspected of DWI. In reality, every citizen still maintains valuable rights vital to the defense of a DWI charge. Beyond rights, there are a number of things everyone should commit to memory in case they are ever charged with DWI. Think this doesn’t apply to you? Even if you drink responsibly, drive, and get pulled over, more likely than not you will be arrested. Whether the charge sticks is another question, and the following simple rules can go a long way toward making sure it doesn’t. With that in mind, I offer the following top 10 dos and don’ts for DWI cases in Texas:
For years, I have privately held a theory about how I think people choose a lawyer to represent them in a criminal case or DWI. It's not flattering, but it is what it is... I think it's like choosing a dentist. You don't really want to have to go, but you can't ignore it, so what do you do? You pick one and you go see them, and if they don't completely turn you off, you go ahead and hire them because you're clueless and they seem smart enough (and you don't want to have to see another one). The thought just kills me, but I still go to that same dentist and I have no idea if his work is great or awful, but I think he's all right. Just like lawyers, they're all expensive so how do you know if you should pay a premium or is a cheaper one just as good? Here's my perspective, for what it's worth. I'm not going bargain hunting when I look for a dentist, or an electrician, or a babysitter, or anything Important. A criminal charge is just not something you can afford to skimp on, not in this job market, in this age of electronic data, and certainly not if you have plans for your future. If you are charged, you should look for a trial lawyer, even if you don't even think you would go to a jury trial yourself.
I guess you could put this under the "Philosophy" category of posts. It's admittedly a fluff piece but the idea arose from actual events today, so hopefully it's mildly relevant or entertaining. Maybe relevant or mildly entertaining.
In honor of Halloween Weekend, the Austin Police Department has again issued a "no refusal" designation for people stopped for suspicion of DWI. Take a look at the APD No-Refusal for Halloween Weekend Press Release for more details.
Should you be able to use deadly force in response to non-deadly force? Generally speaking, the answer under Texas law is no. One of the requirements for using deadly force to be justified is that it is in response to another's use or attempted use of deadly force.