Everything You Need to Know About Pretrial Intervention
Pre-trial intervention in Harris County is similar to a probation arrangement during a criminal case. The goal is to give the defendant an opportunity to clear his or her criminal record with full case dismissal, as long as the defendant fulfills the terms of the pre-trial intervention. Pre-trial intervention serves to rehabilitate the convicted individual more than to punish him or her. The program in Harris County helps people become productive members of society after issues with the law.
What Is Pre-Trial Intervention?
Pre-trial intervention is a one-year period in which someone will complete the terms of the program to earn a case dismissal. It is available in cases involving driving while intoxicated (DWI) charges. Pre-trial intervention occurs while the individual’s criminal case is pending. This is part of what separates it from probation, which is part of a sentence that comes after the completion of a criminal case. Pre-trial intervention is not a sentence. If the individual successfully completes the terms of the intervention, the Harris County courts will dismiss the case.
Case dismissal is not the same as the courts finding you not guilty. It is better. A case dismissal means the trial never happens. The Harris County courts will drop all charges pending against you. Case dismissal means that although you will still have a DWI arrest record, you will not have a conviction. You will not have to go to court or suffer any legal consequences for the incident. If you wish to erase the DWI arrest from your record, you will need to request an expungement. An experienced and local Harris County DWI attorney can help.
Who Is Eligible?
In Harris County, only certain circumstances give the suspect the right to request pre-trial interventions. For DWI pre-trial intervention, the individual must be facing a first-time class B driving while intoxicated charge. The courts prefer applicants that have clean criminal records, but this is not mandatory. The courts also prefer drivers with valid licenses and up-to-date vehicle insurance. Your blood alcohol concentration (BAC) level must have been at or under 0.15% according to a breath or blood test. Most individuals that qualify for pre-trial intervention did not cause accidents or injuries while drunk driving.
What Happens During Pre-Trial Intervention?
If you believe you are a potential participant, go through the assessment process through the District Attorney’s office. The DA may approve you, at which point you have to get the judge’s approval for the next step. A judge may not accept you into the program if your case involves a factor such as a very high BAC level or a prior criminal record. Once the judge approves you, you and your attorney will fill out the official application. It will ask for your basic information and a description of events leading up to your arrest. You will need to explain why pre-trial intervention is the right move for you.
The courts will also have you sign a waiver that states if you fail to meet the requirements of the intervention, your contract is void, and that the prosecution will have the right to use all the statements you made on your application against you during a DWI trial. Next, you will go through a Texas Risk Assessment System interview to see if the program is a good fit. This interview costs around $300. The interviewer will send his or her recommendations to the court.
If offered a pre-trial intervention contract, you will have to complete 16 hours of community service, check in with a probation supervisor once per month, install an alcohol monitoring device in your vehicle, and complete nine hours of a drug and alcohol education course. You may also be subject to random drug and alcohol testing. During pre-trial intervention, you cannot break the law or refuse a breathalyzer test. If you fulfill the terms of the intervention for one year, the courts will dismiss your case. You can then apply for record expungement for a clean criminal history.