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What Happens If I’m Charged with DWI While Out on Parole?

A drunk driving charge is always a serious matter. But if you are accused of DWI while currently on community supervision–i.e. probation–for another criminal offense, you may be facing prison time on the original charge. Drunk driving is a parole violation, and Houston-area law enforcement will not hesitate to try and revoke community supervision when they think they have just cause.

Court of Criminal Appeals: Defendant May be Tried for DWI Despite Outcome of Parole Hearing

But even if you manage to beat the parole violation, you can still face a separate trial and punishment on the original DWI charge. This was confirmed by a recent decision by the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals, State v. Waters. The defendant in this case was arrested for DWI in 2015 while already on parole for a prior offense. Following the DWI arrest, prosecutors moved to revoke the defendant’s community supervision for “committing another criminal offense.”

As it turned out, the judge denied the prosecution’s motion for lack of evidence. The problem was that the only evidence introduced by the state was the testimony of the defendant’s parole officer, who was aware of the arrest but not of any the “facts surrounding the alleged offense.” When determining whether or not a defendant violated the terms of her community supervision, the prosecution must need only prove its case by a preponderance of the evidence. The court said the prosecution failed to meet this burden, however, so the judge found the alleged parole violation “not true.”

Several months later, prosecutors moved to file a separate criminal charge against the defendant for the DWI. The defense then moved for a writ of habeas corpus–essentially, a declaration that the prosecution was unconstitutional since she had already been cleared of the same charge by the judge in her probate revocation hearing. The trial judge agreed with the defendant and issued the writ.

But the Court of Criminal Appeals reversed. Overruling one of its own prior precedents on this subject, the appeals court said that the “not true” finding in the probation hearing did not bar the state from trying the defendant for the DWI. This was not a case of “double jeopardy,” i.e. trying a person twice for the same crime. And even under state common-law principles, a judge’s finding of “true” or “not true” in the context of a probation revocation hearing does not compel any particular result. That is to say, the judge’s decision not to revoke the defendant’s probation did not “hinge on” whether or not the DWI charge was true. Therefore, there was no legal barrier to the state proceeding with a separate criminal DWI trial against the defendant.

Contact a Houston DWI Defense Lawyer Today

A DWI conviction can carry significant penalties on its own, even if you are not already on parole. This is why you need to work with an experienced League City and Galveston DWI and drunk driving defense lawyer who can advise you of your rights. Contact the Law Offices of Tad Nelson & Associates today if you need immediate assistance. Call (281) 280-0100 .