Frequently Asked Questions
Criminal charges raise numerous concerns for those affected. For the benefit of clients and Denton County residents, the Law Office of Earl Dobson provides the following answers to some frequently asked questions. If you have other questions or need advice or representation in a particular criminal law matter, contact his office for a free initial consultation.
What does “board certified” mean?
According to the Texas Board of Legal Specialization, “Board Certification means an attorney has substantial, relevant experience in a select field of law as well as demonstrated, and tested, special competence in that area of law.” Of the 70,000 attorneys licensed to practice in Texas, only 7,000 are publicly recognized as Specialists in their area of law. Earl Dobson is a Certified Criminal Law Specialist, indicating excellence and distinguished accomplishment.
Should I hire a local attorney if I face criminal charges in Denton County?
There are definitely advantages to hiring a local attorney. Denton County has a reputation for being tough on criminal defendants. An attorney from outside the area may not be familiar with local customs and politics, and may even step on some toes. Mr. Dobson has practiced criminal law in Denton for over 17 years, and regularly interacts with local judges, attorneys, and law enforcement, giving him an in-depth understanding of the local criminal justice system.
If I am pulled over for a DUI or DWI, do I have to take a breathalyzer test?
You can refuse a breathalyzer, but you will face consequences. Refusal is considered implied consent under the Texas Transportation Code Section 524.001. First, the state can introduce the fact that you refused a test into evidence during your trial; this can affect how the jury perceives you. Refusal can also affect your punishment. If it is your first DWI offense, you face losing your license for three times as long (180 days, compared to 60) as you would if you had taken, but failed, the test; for your second or third offense, your license loss jumps up to two years instead of 120 or 180 days if you refuse. In certain situations, the police can force you to submit to a test if they suspect you are driving drunk. If you were involved in an accident and the police believe that someone has died, will die, or has suffered severe bodily harm because of the accident, you can be forced to give a sample even if you refuse.
Can I lose my driver’s license if I am convicted of a drug offense?
Pursuant to Texas Transportation Code section 521.372, in most cases, your driver’s license will be automatically suspended for 180 days if you are convicted of a drug-related offense. This is true even if the offense had no relation to the operation of a motor vehicle. If you have been arrested for a drug-related offense, contact an experienced criminal defense lawyer as soon as possible.
Can I deny a search of my vehicle?
Generally, you have a reasonable expectation of privacy in your home and on your body. However, your expectation of privacy is reduced for your car. If the police believe that illegal items (such as drugs or weapons) are in your car, the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that law enforcement can search your vehicle without a warrant, but only in the places where the item they are looking for is reasonable to find. In other words, the police cannot search your glove compartment if they are looking for a stolen television set. Law enforcement can also search any container within your car, such as a bag or purse, that might contain what they are looking for.
Do I have to say anything to law enforcement if I am arrested for a serious felony?
Under the United States Constitution, you never have to say anything when you have been arrested, regardless of the severity of the crime. It is critical to clearly and immediately ask for an attorney and refuse to answer any law enforcement questions until your attorney is present. Once you have asserted your right to remain silent, the police cannot later try to question you unless you waive your right. Even if you agreed to answer some questions, you can stop and assert your right to remain silent at any time, and law enforcement must honor your request unless you re-initiate talks with the police.