Pretrial Torture: “I Feel Like I’m Already on Probation!”
*WARNING* BOND VIOLATIONS CAN HURT A CASE. WE DO THE BEST WE CAN TO ADDRESS ANY VIOLATIONS.
According to the United States and Texas Constitutions, the law presumes a person innocent until proven guilty. That presumption applies at every stage of a case, even at the arrest stage! In many cases, the worst part of a Texas DWI charge is the “pretrial torture” of oppressive bond conditions. Bond conditions in Texas criminal cases can include license suspensions, interlock ignition device requirements, ankle monitors, and other conditions. Some counties (especially Johnson and Parker County) will put people through hell before their case is even addressed, sometimes even before the District Attorneys file the case!
This pretrial torture can exhaust a person’s financial resources or even cost them a job. Mimi knows that this pretrial torture can be both a physical and financial drain. This is one of the things Mimi will discuss with client during a full case evaluation. Mimi wants to know you and everything you have experienced so she can humanize you to the DAs and the court.
The pretrial torture costs can vary widely, and don’t even include a person’s normal expenses unrelated to the charge, such as rent and car payments. Even at the minimum, a person may need to spend almost $2000 just to get out of jail! If the person has an ALR suspension before their criminal case begins, that person may also be out of a job!
Here are some ways the system can torture a person:
- An interlock can cost between $65-$95 per month for calibration, which doesn’t include the $70-$150 installation fee. Sometimes an interlock will be a requirement before the court will set a bond. In addition, there is no “time served” for an interlock that is required as a bond condition. This means that many months of compliance with an interlock bond conditions has no impact on probation.
- SR22 insurance, which is vehicle liability insurance required for drivers with an interlock, can cost an average of almost $1000 for a year.
- A commercial truck driver may lose their CDL for at least a year, which can cost them a job most of the time.
- Having to pay for a bond to get out of jail. Sometimes, depending on the charge, the judge may not even set a bond, keeping a person in jail almost indefinitely! The average bond for a first-time DWI is between $200 and $1000, but the judge can set it to whatever (reasonable) amount they want based on the circumstances.
- A reinstatement fee of $135 to reinstate one’s license after an ALR suspension.
- If one uses a bondsman, they may require check-in meetings and random urinalyses (UAs). These don’t always cost money, but it means time the person is not working.
- Impound fees (about $300) if the person needs to recover their car. The fees might be higher if they also need to pay for repairs from an accident.
- If applying for an Occupational Driver’s License (ODL) for an ALR suspension, there is a filing fee (normally about $285) to send the petition to the court.
- Every criminal defendant has the right to an appointed attorney if they cannot afford one, but that right is limited by sometimes hard-to-meet “indigence” rules. The Coffey Firm knows that money isn’t always easy and will work with you to set up a payment plan. This is especially true while everyone’s finances recover after the Covid-19 shutdowns.
Some Pretrial Torture Examples
Here are some horror stories from our experience representing clients:
- A person arrested for DWI in August 2019 had to install an interlock on his car as a pretrial condition. As of one year later, August 2020, the state has not yet filed a case against this person, but the court has not removed interlock as a pretrial condition. This means he has paid at least $850 before he has even had a single court date!
- A commercial truck driver arrested for DWI in October 2019 (in his own car) had an ALR suspension starting in March 2020. A license suspension, whether ALR or criminal, also revokes a person’s CDL for a year (for a first-time offense). When suspended, a driver must downgrade to renew his license. A “downgrade” means that DPS forces him to go through the entire process of re-applying for a CDL, including the driving test. These tests can have a large financial cost, including renting a commercial truck. On top of some of the above costs, this person has extra cost due to the pretrial torture by Texas DPS.
- Client has both interlock and a portable breathalyzer unit as a requirement. Judge refuses to lift either restriction. So, client is paying double the monthly fee to calibrate both the interlock and portable unit.
More Pretrial Torture Examples
- Dallas County client has a restriction requiring him to have both interlock and SCRAM (ankle monitor). Both are very expensive to calibrate and maintain. In addition, SCRAM units are notorious for being sensitive and recording even the most minor of violations.
- Denton County requires interlock for all BAC .15 or above DWIs, even if the margin of error puts a person’s blood below .15.
- Parker County client arrested October 2019 and lives in Houston. Pretrial services requires her to physically check-in once a week. Client has to pay ~$300 per week to have someone drive her from Houston to Weatherford. Pretrial services also violated her for missing one check-in when client took her mother to the hospital because they would not “bend the rules” for her. All of this happened before the DAs even filed her case in April 2020!
Pretrial services for each county
Mimi is listed on several “top” directory listings such as DWI Lawyers for Wise County, DWI Lawyer Tarrant County, DWI Lawyer Dallas County, DWI Lawyer Collin County, DWI Lawyer in Johnson County and DWI Lawyer Parker County. Mimi is a caring DWI Lawyer in DFW, She is also involved in the Texas Tech School of Law foundation and enjoys using the skills she has developed to give back to the community.