Can Harris County Prosecute for Boating While Intoxicated off the LaPorte Coast?

The simple answer is, they can try.  Jurisdiction in Harris County criminal cases is not normally an issue, however, there is more to that story.

A few months ago, LaPorte Police Officers arrested a Harris County citizen for Boating While Intoxicated.  Client was boating in the waters of Galveston Bay adjacent to LaPorte, Texas.  It should be noted that LaPorte is wholly within Harris County.  LaPorte police officers flagged the defendant down and ordered him to shore, ultimately arresting him for Boating While Intoxicated.  They called the Harris County District Attorney's office and they accepted the BWI charge.

During the course of our representation, Client informed us that the portion of Galveston Bay adjacent to LaPorte where the "boating" took place is actually a part of Chambers County, not Harris County.  After bringing this to the prosecutor's attention. he contacted a "higher up" at LaPorte PD to verify - sure enough, client was in Chambers County at the time of the "boating."

Apparently the LaPorte PD and Chambers County officers have an "Agreement" that it is OK for LaPorte to enforce the law in the waters of Chambers County.  Unfortunately for the LaPorte PD, they did not consult Harris County defense attorneys prior to entering this "Agreement" to see if we were OK with it.

Harris County does not have jurisdiction to hear cases that occur in other counties.  However, it is up to the accused to bring this to the attention of the court.

Houston DWI DIVERT Program - Preferential Treatment for Professional Athletes?

Do professional athletes get preferential treatment in the Harris County DWI DIVERT Program?  Don't get me wrong, I'm very happy for this individual and don't blame him.  I would only hope the preferential treatment would extend to all of the rest of those in the Harris County DWI DIVERT Program.  I would like to see the same courtesy to all, not just the professional athletes.

The Harris County District Attorney's Office officially started the DWI DIVERT Program in August of 2009.  According to the District Attorney's office, the minimum contract period for anyone in the DWI DIVERT Program is one year.  Therefore, it seems that none of the people in the DWI DIVERT Program could possibly have been finished with the program and had his case dismissed, right?  WRONG!!!

Let's take a look at the chronology of a local professional athlete's case. 

  • March 2008 - Professional athlete arrested for DWI in Houston.
  • August 2009 - DWI DIVERT Program started by Harris County District Attorney's office.
  • September 22, 2009 - Professional athlete placed into the DWI DIVERT Program.
  • April 1, 2010 - Professional athlete's DWI case dismissed by District Attorney - Just over 6 months into program.
  • September 20, 2010 - Day the case was originally scheduled to be dismissed.

Because we are less than a year into the program, I suspect this case is the only DWI DIVERT dismissal that has taken place so far.  So I ask you again, is there preferential treatment for this professional athlete by the Harris County District Attorney's Office?