If you don’t accept a plea deal for a DWI charge, then odds are good you’ll have a trial. What happens if you lose your case and the jury comes back with a guilty verdict?
Believe it or not, a conviction in court doesn’t necessarily end a criminal case. Sometimes, the trial was so flawed you can bring an appeal and ask a higher court to order a new trial or possibly even acquit you. There are dozens of reasons to bring a criminal appeal, with the ones below being the most common.
Common Reasons to Appeal a Texas DWI Conviction
Improper Admission of Evidence
Judges sometimes let the prosecution admit evidence that shouldn’t be allowed in. For example, the police might have questioned you after the arrest but not given Miranda warnings. Any statements you made should be suppressed, but if the judge lets those statements in you can ask for a new trial.
Improper guilt-by-association evidence is also unfairly prejudicial and should be kept out. A prosecutor’s questions about your wife’s alcoholism could taint the jury unfairly against you. You might deserve a new trial for that reason, too.
An officer must have had probable cause to arrest you. This is a factual question based on well-developed legal principles. For example, an officer might say you failed a field sobriety test, so he arrested you. But dashcam footage could show you performed the tests quite well. You should not have been charged when the police lacked probable cause to arrest you.
Improper Jury Instructions
Jurors must decide the facts of a case, and then they apply the facts to the law. However, a judge might give wrong jury instructions. For example, the judge might refuse to give an instruction requested by the defense or allow an instruction which is confusing or prejudicial.
On appeal, you might get the higher court to agree that you deserve a second trial when the wrong jury instructions are given. Of course, this doesn’t mean you are automatically acquitted, but you do get a second chance to argue your case to the jury.
It’s rare, but sometimes a higher court will decide that there is insufficient evidence presented at trial to support a guilty verdict. For example, the state might never have proven you were in a public place when behind the wheel of a car. If not, they can’t get a DWI conviction, since being in a public place is an element of the crime.
Is Filing an Appeal Worth It?
Bringing a proper appeal takes time and specialized knowledge. It is not always worth it for defendants to continue to fight. Sometimes, a defendant will just accept punishment so they can move on with their life.
Other situations are different. If you are facing intoxicated manslaughter charges, for example, then you could face decades in jail if convicted. It makes sense for these defendants to continue to fight a conviction—especially when they have valid grounds to bring an appeal.
Need Help with Texas DWI Charges?
Contact Attorney Tad A. Nelson
Our law firm has handled many appeals in Houston and surrounding areas. We can review your case and help you decide the best steps to take. Call our Houston DWI attorneys to schedule a free case evaluation.