Thursday, June 7, 2007

No More Labor Detail in DWI Jail Sentences in Tarrant County

"Labor Detail" is a program in Tarrant County whereby a person sentenced to a jail term can serve that sentence by appearing at least one day a week and performing public work under the supervision of the sheriff, and obtain credit for that time as though they had actually been in jail. This has often been done by those convicted of Driving While Intoxicated.

On Wednesday, June 6, 2007, Richard Alpert, Chief Misdemeanor Prosecutor of the Tarrant County District Attorney's Office stated that as of Monday, June 11, 2007 the Tarrant County DA's office will oppose any request that a jail sentence impose for a DWI offense be served in the sheriff's "Labor Detail" program. Apparently, a defense attorney got into a dispute with a felony prosecutor about whether jail time imposed as a condition of probation in a felony DWI case could be served in the "Labor Detail" program. That felony prosecutor researched the issue and found Article 42.036, Texas Code of Criminal Procedure, which is the only provision authorizing the "Labor Detail" program. Article 42.036 specifically excepts DWI offenses from the authorization for "Labor Detail" sentences. Accordingly, the DA's office is now going to take the position that a Judge can not legally allow a DWI defendant to serve his or her jail sentence in the "Labor Detail" program. Richard says that the DA's office might be amenable to setting up a test case and having an expedited appeal in an attempt to have the Court of Appeals find that there is some legal authority which would allow the application of the "Labor Detail" program to a DWI sentence.

This policy change will not affect those serving jail terms in Labor Detail on convictions of other offenses.


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