Where Will My Houston DWI Case Be Heard?
I Don’t Know Where to Go for My DWI Case
If you face a Houston DWI case, it often comes with intense pressure. Because a conviction can cost thousands of dollars and the loss of your license, the stakes are incredibly high. However, this is likely only the beginning of your stress. If this is your first arrest, the entire process may seem overwhelming, daunting.
With dozens of courts in and around Houston, it’s hard to know where you’re supposed to be. You likely have a lot of questions, and our DWI defense team has the answers. While this post provides a general overview of what you might expect, it’s important that you schedule a free consultation with our team. You need to know your options, and we can offer key insight into the process.
The Court System in the Houston Area
How your Houston DWI case processes depends on the county in which you were arrested. As the 4th-largest city in the United States, Houston’s population spreads across multiple counties with people often commuting or traveling through and between them. Each county has its own set of courts, and the ways in which they process can vary drastically. The three largest counties in the area are Harris, Montgomery, and Fort Bend.
By far, Harris County is the largest, with over 4 million residents – more than the other nearby counties combined. Fort Bend is the second largest with over 500,000 residents, and Montgomery is third, with over 455,000.
Courts Hearing Houston DWI Cases in Harris County
With millions of residents, it’s no surprise that the court system in Harris County is quite vast. Which court hears your case depends in part on whether you are charged with a felony DWI or a misdemeanor.
When you are charged with a misdemeanor DWI, your case is often assigned to a Harris County Criminal Court of Law. These courts have exclusive jurisdiction over Class B misdemeanors. Additionally, they cover Class A misdemeanors with fines that do not exceed $4,000. Harris County has 16 criminal courts, and they are housed in the Harris County Criminal Justice Center downtown.
S.O.B.E.R. DWI Courts
Among the Harris County Criminal Courts at Law, 5 are designated as S.O.B.E.R. DWI Courts. An acronym for Saving Ourselves By Education and Recovery, this is a DWI program exclusive to the county. It operates as a rehabilitation program for offenders with a high-risk DWI. Through this program, you might substitute incarceration with a treatment program. Not every defendant qualifies, and this program is voluntary.
It is crucial to understand that even when eligible, this program is not for everyone. It requires strict adherence to the rules and the terms set forth by the court. Otherwise, you risk jail time. While these courts appeal to many individuals, it is not always in your best interest to participate in the program. Before you enter any type of plea in a Houston DWI case, it is essential that you consult an experienced Houston DWI lawyer like those at The Martinez Law Firm.
District Courts in Harris County
When you are charged with a felony DWI, or any felony involving alcohol, your case is sent to the Harris County District Courts. These courts hold exclusive jurisdiction over felonies that carry a prison sentence longer than 180 days. There are 22 of these courts in Harris County.
Work with an Experienced Houston DWI Lawyer
Are you facing a Houston DWI case? Figuring out how to move forward when arrested for a DWI is a difficult undertaking. However, you do not need to face these charges alone. At The Martinez Law Firm, our DWI defense attorney knows how to guide clients through the Houston criminal justice system and has decades of experience doing so. When you need a DWI lawyer, our credentials are unmatched.
You need someone well-versed in criminal defense cases throughout the Greater Houston Area. Contact our law firm today to schedule a free consultation and case evaluation. Let us help you understand and explore your options.