The first and most important mistake often happens before they’re even arrested, and that’s when the person starts answering questions. Sometimes when they’re first pulled over by the officer and the officer asks them if they’ve had something to drink, right there, most people make a mistake by answering. People at that point should go ahead and say, “I invoke my right to remain silent. I refuse to answer any questions.” But after they’ve been arrested and after they’ve been released, the first and the biggest mistake they make is not hiring an experienced attorney, as soon as possible, because the sooner that we can get started with the defense, the better the chances of winning and the more options we have available to get good results.
Quite often, there are steps we can take early on that can improve the defensibility of the case; maybe there’s evidence that we can gather or photographs that can be taken or other things that can be done to help show the person’s innocence or explain how they are not guilty. There might be photographs that need to be taken or evidence gathered from the car or from the roadway that can frequently change or be gone within days. So it’s very important to take those steps early on. The attorney doesn’t have the opportunity to do that unless they get hired, and of course, it’s also important to hire the attorney early enough to demand an administrative license revocation hearing.
Then sometimes there are other steps that can be taken early on that will increase the chances of having a case dismissed or being found not guilty.
It depends. For some agencies, depending on where you’re arrested, your case might get filed within days, or it can be months. There are some jurisdictions in North Texas where it can be six months or more before the case gets filed. So during that period of time, until the case is filed, you won’t have a court appearance. Depending on what agency arrested you and in what city, the case might be filed within days of your arrest, and then you might have a court appearance within weeks. However, in other jurisdictions, it might be months or even six months or more before you have a court appearance, but you do have to carefully watch for any notices of court appearances.
You also have to pay attention to any requirements or conditions of bond; sometimes depending on the jurisdiction or some of the facts and particularly in a DWI case, you may have a condition of bond, such as an interlock device, and usually if that is a condition, it has to be installed within 30 days of the person’s release. So you have to pay attention to any conditions like that and comply with them even though you may not have a court appearance within that time.
Certainly, when you hire our firm, we’ll discuss your case at the first opportunity. At that point, we’re going to start taking all the steps that we need to properly defend you by demanding the hearing, by demanding the discovery from the department of public safety and the prosecutor, by letting the prosecutor know that we represent you, and by requesting the video and other records that we need to help defend you. We’ll meet with you, as soon as possible, to discuss what’s going to happen and any time there’s a court appearance.
Once we’ve completed our investigation, we’ll have a meeting with you to give you our evaluation of the case and our recommendation for how to handle it. We’ll also discuss strategy and what the next steps are. Now, that can happen anywhere within a month to several months from being hired because it may take that long to complete the investigation and obtain all the materials. Again, that can be longer than that, depending on how long it takes for the case to be filed and the first court appearance. But with our firm, we’ll let you know what to expect at the first court appearance, and then it may take longer than the first court appearance to complete our investigation and get all the discovery that we need; then we’ll have a meeting with you, once we’ve completed the investigation, to thoroughly explain the case to you.