Before a suspected DWI offender is ever tried and convicted, the media does the work for the State of Texas in terms of influencing a potential pool of jury members. As of Monday, Memorial Day, online news was rampant with headlines, like:
- 2-Year-Old Killed By Suspected Drunk Driver After Chase With Garland Police
- 3 Killed in West Dallas Crash With Suspected Drunken Driver, Victims Identified
- 7-Year-Old Critically Injured in Crash with 18-Year-Old Who Admitted to DUI, Texas Police Say
In Texas, as well as throughout the United States, you are innocent until the State proves you are guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. In these and other cases, there can always be circumstances and facts that don't come to light initially, making you innocent of the charges. Unfortunately, that doesn't matter to the press. They put your name out there and label you a drunk driver.
These news reports do have the descriptor "suspected" attached to it, but that doesn't matter when a person's face is lambasted online for everyone to see. Not only is the name all over the internet but so is the allegation of driving drunk and quite possibly harming another person.
Why does this matter? And why is it – though not legally wrong – morally wrong for the media to name you and the charges against you before you have any time to react?
It matters because many alleged offenders are professionals, neighbors, teachers, community leaders, fathers, and mothers – you get it. It matters because this type of charge can be made against just about anyone, and oftentimes the charge doesn't stick. But the story is out, and that can have repercussions if not only on your reputation but your career, among other things.
Is It a DWI Defense Attorney's Job to Protect You from the Collateral Consequence of DWI Charges?
In the 1991 U.S. Supreme Court case, Gentile v. State Bar of Nevada, Justice Kennedy said,
An attorney's duties do not begin inside the courtroom door. He or she cannot ignore the practical implications of a legal proceeding for the client ... an attorney may take reasonable steps to defend a client's reputation and reduce the adverse consequences of indict-ment. A defense attorney may pursue lawful strategies to obtain dismissal of an indictment or reduction of charges, including an attempt to demonstrate in the court of public opinion that the client does not deserve to be tried.
Though this case was more about judicially imposed limits on attorney speech and not specific to DWI cases, the above quote still represents the heart of the issue: you need an attorney to defend you in both the court of public opinion as well as the court of law.
An experienced DWI defense attorney will do just that: defend your reputation as well as the charges against you. Retaining an experienced DWI attorney as soon as possible is critical. The sooner the attorney is hired, the sooner he can begin challenging the case already being made against you. These challenges can be conducted through public and private means.
If you have been arrested for a DWI charge in the Dallas and Fort Worth metro area, contact a DWI defense attorney immediately. Your reputation is on the line just as much as a criminal conviction is.