Texas DWI Defense Attorney Talks About Competence

One issue that can come up in any criminal case, including a DWI case, is the question of whether or not the defendant is competent to stand trial. For court proceedings to be fair, a defendant must be both capable of understanding the proceedings that are being brought against them and capable of assisting their defense counsel in defending them in those proceedings. Capability does not necessarily mean having a high level of understanding or skill in helping in their defense, it is a very basic understanding and ability that most people have most of the time.

It is imperative that DWI defendants understand that raising the issue of competence is not a defense to the crime of DWI. It is a tool that enables defendants to receive a fair trial because it allows court proceedings to be placed on hold until the defendant can become competent to stand trial. For example, if a defendant is found to have a mental impairment that could respond well to therapy or medication or a combination of both, the defendant will be ordered to receive those treatments and can then proceed to trial once the treatments take effect and they can understand and assist as described above.

The defense counsel in a recent Texas DWI case involving competence has asked for additional time to assess whether their client is competent to stand trial. This particular defendant has been examined by multiple professionals, and those professionals appear to have different opinions regarding whether the defendant is competent to stand trial. He was charged with intoxication manslaughter after a November 2013 wrong-way crash that killed one person.

In addition to the issue of differing opinions among professionals, there is the issue of whether those professionals have followed the proper procedures in examining the defendant and reporting their findings. For example, one doctor plans to testify that the defendant is competent, but the defense counsel says that they had not received any report that would have notified them of her findings. Written reports are supposed to be provided to counsel thirty days before the pretrial hearing so that they can have time to read them and prepare their responses to them. A different doctor is of the opinion that the defendant is not competent to stand trial and that the defendant should undergo an extended period of observation and examination.

Competence is just one of many issues that can arise during a DWI case. DWI defendants have a lot at stake, and a Texas DWI Defense Attorney can help those who are charged with DWI protect their rights. If you’re currently facing DWI charges in Texas, you do not have to figure out a DWI defense strategy on your own – in fact doing so could be costly in more ways than one. Jack Pettit, Attorney at Law, has assisted a number of Texas DWI clients with their cases, and he would like to help you. To learn more, please call 214-521-4567 today.


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