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Search Deferred Adjudication for a San Antonio DWI?

It appears that deferred adjudication may become available in San Antonio, Texas for the first time since 1984. A new bill is being sponsored by Rep. Todd Smith (R-Euless) that would allow people charged with a Texas DWI 1st Offense to enter a plea to DWI and be placed on community supervision without receiving a conviction.

Under current Texas DWI laws, including a San Antonio DWI, a person placed on community supervision for a DWI is found guilty and receives a conviction. Prior to 1984, a Texas DWI defendant could avoid a conviction if they did not violate a condition of their probation that resulted in revocation. In an effort to make DWI penalties more rigid, interest groups such as Mothers Against Drunk Driving and prosecutorial agencies successfully lobbied the legislature to abolish deferred adjudication for DWI in Texas.

Critics of the 1984 amendment argue that removing deferred adjudication as an alternative to DWI defendants has caused more problems than it cures. People charged with DWI have little incentive to enter a plea bargain agreement with the State. Because sentences following a guilty verdict after a trial are comparable to sentences following a guilty plea, people are benefited by simply setting their case on a trial docket. The result is trial dockets with a disproportionate number of DWI’s compared to other misdemeanor offenses. Likewise, state and county resources are being spent in a lopsided manner. Bills introduced since 1984 to fix this problem have met opposition from the proponents of the existing law.

Unlike similar previous bills, Representative Smith’s bill has received support from M.A.D.D. and several influential prosecutors across the state. If passed, defendants receiving deferred adjudication will still face intrusive conditions during their community supervision. The judge will have discretion to impose jail time, ignition interlock, community service hours, fines, court costs and educational classes as conditions of the deferred adjudication. The State could still file a motion to have the defendant found guilty of the DWI based on a violation of any condition of the deferred. Remember, all this will apply to a San Antonio DWI also.

Posted on August 28, 2013 in Articles

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