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Harris County Pretrial Intervention Program

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People who commit misdemeanors or who have no prior criminal record may not deserve the same kind of punishment as felons and career criminals. Rather than sentencing them to long stints in jail and steep fines, judges in Harris County, Texas may allow them to complete a deferred adjudication program. 

One of the most common of these programs is called pretrial intervention. You may be able to take part in a pretrial intervention program by learning what it entails and what benefits it can offer to you as a low-level offender.

What is a Pretrial Intervention Program?

Pretrial intervention is a type of deferred adjudication available in numerous Texas counties, including Harris County. It requires the offender to complete a one-year program in order to have his or her criminal case dismissed. The terms of the program take place while the offender’s case is still pending in court.

Pretrial intervention is different from probation in several ways. First, probation is a type of sentence given by a judge to an offender after his or her case goes before the court and is decided. A sentence of probation will appear on the offender’s criminal record despite him or her never having served any time in jail.

Alternatively, a pretrial intervention allows the person to avoid having a criminal sentence appear on his or her record. It will not remove the arrest, however. To remove the arrest for the crime with he or she has been charged, the offender will have to petition the state for an expungement. 

Have you been arrested for DWI? Contact attorney Brett Podolsky to help you apply for pretrial intervention »

Pretrial Intervention Overview

People who are eligible for the pretrial intervention program in Harris County have to follow a precise process to be admitted. The process begins with offenders first being assessed by the district attorney. Once the DA approves them for the program, they then must be approved by the judges assigned to their cases.

If the judge approves you for the Harris County pretrial intervention program, you and your attorney must then complete the official application for it. The application asks for details like:

  • Your full legal name and address
  • Events leading up to your arrest
  • Specifics of your crime and arrest
  • Why the pretrial intervention program is the best choice for you

If your application is accepted, you will be required to sign a waiver stating that if you fail to meet the requirements of the program that your contract will be voided. You also give permission for statements on your application to be used against you in a trial.

You then will be required to complete the specific demands of the program. These requirements include:

  • Completing 16 hours of community service
  • Meeting with your probation supervisor once a month
  • Having an alcohol monitoring device installed on your car
  • Completing nine hours of drug and alcohol education courses
  • Submitting to random drug and alcohol tests

During the time you are completing the Harris County pretrial intervention program, you cannot break any laws or be arrested again. You also cannot refuse to take a breathalyzer test.

Once you complete the program, the court will dismiss your criminal case. You can then pursue an expungement of your arrest from your criminal record.

Eligibility for the Harris County Pretrial Intervention Program

Deferred adjudication programs in Texas are available to a select number of offenders. To be eligible for most types of deferred adjudication, people generally have to be first-time offenders. They also have to be charged with Class B or lower offenses like:

  • Misdemeanor criminal trespassing or burglary
  • Nuisance crimes
  • Marijuana possession
  • Shoplifting

However, the pretrial intervention program in Harris County is reserved solely for people who are first-time DWI offenders. To be eligible for the program, they must have:

  • No prior criminal record
  • A current driver’s license
  • Updated car insurance
  • A blood test or breathalyzer-verified blood alcohol content of 0.15 or lower

They also cannot have been in a DWI-related car accident that resulted in injuries or death.

If you meet these qualifications and want to avoid having a criminal sentence on your record, you may want to pursue the pretrial intervention program. You should understand, however, that the program is not a right but rather a privilege. You can ask the court to permit you to take part in it by hiring a lawyer and submitting an official petition to the judge. 

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Why Hire a Lawyer

If you want to ask the court to take part in the Harris County pretrial intervention program, you may find it best to hire a lawyer to assist you. Your attorney can help you make an official request and prove to the court that you meet the criteria for the program. He or she will also know what documents to provide to the court to show you are a first-time offender and have no prior criminal record. 

Having an experienced criminal defense lawyer on retainer can also be invaluable if you want to petition the state for an expungement of your criminal record. Completing the pretrial intervention program will not result in your arrest being removed from the record. A judge must agree to expunge and remove the arrest and make it undetectable by people like potential employers, schools, and lending institutions.

Rather than file an application for the pretrial intervention program or an expungement of your record on your own, you can get the legal help you need by hiring an experienced attorney. The process for both may be easier to complete. It also may take less time than if you were to pursue it by yourself.

As a first-time DWI offender, you may not necessarily deserve going to jail and paying steep fines to the court. You may pay your debt to society and reform your life more by taking part in a type of deferred adjudication. 

When you have been arrested for DWI in Harris County, you can ask the court to allow you to participate in the county’s pretrial intervention program. A skilled lawyer can help you make the official request and prove your eligibility for it.

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