The Court Process – What Happens Next?

Court and Representation

After a Texas DWI arrest, the case is assigned to a certain court. In most Texas counties, misdemeanor cases are assigned to county courts and felony cases are assigned to state district courts. All persons have a right to be represented by an attorney in all Texas DWI charges. Once a person appears in court with a DWI lawyer, there is a series of court appearances. In these appearances, the DWI attorney for the accused reviews the police reports and evidence discusses the case with the prosecutors, and gathers information to help decide how to advise the client of the best course of action. Between court appearances, the DWI defense lawyer investigates any evidence involved in the case, talks to witnesses if necessary, and researches any legal issues involved in the case. Simple cases can sometimes be resolved in one or two court appearances. More complicated cases can take over a year and many appearances in court to resolve.

Plea Bargains

Most DWI cases are eventually resolved with some kind of agreement with the prosecution. Sometimes prosecutors agree to simply dismiss a case after the Houston DWI defense attorney points out legal or factual issues with the case. Most DWI cases involve the prosecutor and the accused reaching a plea bargain agreement. A plea bargain occurs when an accused agrees to plead “guilty” or “no contest” to the court in exchange for an agreed sentence with the prosecutor. This agreement usually involves an offer of a sentence less than what would likely be handed down by a jury if a trial were held. In some cases, the prosecutor will reduce the DWI charge to a less serious offense as part of the deal. Over 95% of all criminal charges are resolved with some agreement and no formal trial.


Sometimes cases cannot be resolved with any agreement. This usually happens when either the accused is innocent, or the prosecutor refuses to offer a bargain that the accused is willing to accept. When this happens, the attorney for the accused exercises their right to a Texas DWI trial. A trial is a formal adversarial hearing where witnesses are called and evidence is presented in court under formal rules. At trial, an accused is supposed to be presumed innocent until the prosecution presents enough evidence to convince the jury beyond a reasonable doubt that the accused is guilty. Texas DWI trials can last from one day in simple misdemeanor cases, to several days in complicated cases.