Wednesday, June 16, 2010

When office policy clashes with the law

According to the Texas Penal Code, the punishment range for a first-time DWI conviction is not less than 72 hours and not more than 180 days in the county jail. A second DWI conviction carries a range of not less than 30 days and not more than one year in the county jail.

Thanks to the DIVERT program in Harris County and "office policy," prosecutors are offering either 30 days in the Harris County Jail or probation for one year on first-time DWI's. As at least 14 of the 15 county criminal courts at law have signed onto the DIVERT program, all but one of the judges are in agreement with the DA's "office policy."

As an aside, I find it quite interesting that a person charged with DWI is not eligible for pretrial "diversion" in one court but is capable of pleading guilty for time served and a fine.

And, in falling in lockstep with Pat Lykos, those judges are not fulfilling their duty under the law by failing to take into consideration the entire range of punishment for a person convicted of driving while intoxicated. In essence what Harris County has done is create a mandatory minimum sentence of 30 days for driving while intoxicated - contrary to the will of the Texas Legislature.

1 comment:

Mark Bennett said...

Have any of these judges admitted that they are predisposed to give 30 days to a first-time DWI defendant?

(I'm sure you see where I'm headed here. . .)