You’ve been acquitted of all charges! Great! Right? It sounds good, but is it as good as being found “not guilty”? What does acquitted mean for DWI, actually? 

An acquittal is a final decision after a court case by a trier of fact (a judge or jury), that states that they cannot convict you of the crime with which you were charged. Basically, it means you’ve won. 

Like many legal concepts, the concept of acquittal is very simple but has a surprising amount of nuance for those who are looking to find it. The DWI lawyers from Thiessen Law Firm are here to discuss what it means to be acquitted of a crime, why the term ”innocent” is generally not used in court, and the subtle differences between being acquitted, receiving a “not guilty” verdict, and being exonerated.

If you or a loved one has been arrested under suspicion of DWI, your best shot at being acquitted of all charges is hiring an experienced DWI attorney with a track record of winning DWI cases — like the attorneys at Thiessen Law Firm.

Check out some of our Notable Victories to read about howwe beat DWI cases, and give us a call at (713) 864-9000 to discuss your case. 

What does it mean to be acquitted?

As previously stated, an acquittal is a legal verdict that occurs when the prosecution fails to convict someone accused of a crime.  

Does acquittal mean not guilty? Yes and no. A “not guilty” verdict is essentially a type of acquittal. If you are found “not guilty” at trial, you will be officially acquitted by the court. Acquittals can come in the forms of “not guilty” verdicts, dismissals, or having charges dropped.

It is also possible to be acquitted of some charges but still convicted of others. Acquittal means that the court was unable to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you were guilty of the accused crimes, but what often happens is that the court is able to prove that you were guilty of a lesser crime. 

For instance, it is possible (and not uncommon) in intoxication manslaughter cases that the prosecution is able to prove either that you caused the accident in which another person lost their life or that you were intoxicated, but have trouble proving both. In this case, you would be acquitted of a charge of intoxication manslaughter, but would still be facing a DWI, reckless driving, or manslaughter charge. 

Does acquitted mean innocent?

An acquittal does not equal innocence. In fact, the term “innocent” is deliberately avoided in court for some very important reasons.

  1. Presumption of innocence is one of the fundamental principles of the legal system. Presumption of innocence puts forth that a person accused of a crime is considered innocent until proven guilty — you’re likely familiar with the concept. If a court were to deem someone innocent, it would undermine the idea that they were presumed to be so. 
  2. The burden of proof in a court of law lies completely on the prosecution. This means that they must demonstrate the defendant’s guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. Put simply: guilt must be proved, not innocence. 

Does not guilty mean innocent? No! Because innocence is presumed, a court will only ever find you not guilty, and trust us — you want it that way. 

What is the difference between acquittal and exonerated?

Acquittal signifies that a defendant could not be proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. Exoneration, on the other hand, is a broader term that encompasses a number of scenarios in which an individual is cleared of wrongdoing. 

While exoneration can result from an acquittal, it can also occur in cases where new evidence emerges that proves the innocence of a previously convicted person. Exoneration implies complete vindication and often involves the state formally acknowledging the mistake made in finding the defendant guilty. 

In essence, an acquittal is a specific type of exoneration that occurs within the confines of a criminal trial, whereas exoneration encompasses a wider range of circumstances, including post-conviction developments and DNA evidence exonerations.

How to get acquittal in criminal cases like DWI

It’s pretty simple: if you want to be acquitted of DWI in Texas, you need to hire a lawyer who knows how to beat a DWI in Texas. Although the strategy used to beat a DWI case will depend entirely upon the circumstances of the arrest, there are some common defenses that your lawyer might use to beat a DWI. 

  1. Argue that an illegal stop took place. If the police didn’t have a valid reason to stop you or to search your vehicle, it may have violated your rights; if your rights were violated, evidence obtained in the process may be inadmissible. 
  2. Argue inaccurate blood alcohol tests (BAC) or inaccurate field sobriety tests. BAC tests and field sobriety tests are commonly used by the prosecution as evidence to put someone away for DWI. The problem? BAC tests and field sobriety tests are often bogus. 
  3. Point out errors in police work. The police have to follow a very specific set of rules when making an arrest for DWI. This specific set of rules involves filling out a report and turning in footage from the arrest. If you act like you’re at church and perform well on video, these two accounts might not match up so neatly. 

Remember, you can only get a DWI charge removed from your record if the case is dismissed or you are acquitted. A conviction will live on your record forever, so it is vital that you do what it takes to win. 

*Continue reading about expungement in Texas and DWI expungement in Texas

Call Thiessen Law Firm and ask how we win acquittals for our DWI clients

So, what does acquitted mean for DWI? It can describe not guilty verdicts, dropped charges, exonerations after a conviction, and other scenarios in which a court fails to convict you of criminal charges. Your best chance at being acquitted of all charges is to hire a trial lawyer who can walk into a courtroom and fight for your rights.

What is a trial lawyer? Trial lawyers are experienced at taking a case to trial. If you’re thinking “Isn’t every lawyer a trial lawyer?” the answer is unfortunately no. Many attorneys do most of their work outside a court of law, filing paperwork and talking to the many bureaucrats and administrators that fill up the legal system. A trial lawyer can build you a defense team, prepare witnesses, research and gather evidence, and argue in front of a judge or jury to give you the best chance at a win. 

Mark Thiessen is a trial lawyer. He’s also a Super Lawyer ten years running, and the only lawyer in Texas who is triple board certified in the following:

  • Criminal Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization
  • DUI Defense by the National College for DUI Defense as approved through the American Bar Association
  • DUI Law by the DUI Defense Lawyers Association
  • Board Certified Advocate of Criminal Trial Law by the NBTA Foundation

If you or a loved one has a DWI case that you can’t lose, you have to call Thiessen Law Firm at (713) 864-9000 or contact us online for a free consultation today. 

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Mark Thiessen is an aggressive trial lawyer best known for his devotion to justice for his clients and high rank as a DWI Super Lawyer in Texas.