If you were arrested for DWI after simply sitting in a parked vehicle (often called “parking while intoxicated”) in Collin County, whether in a parking lot in Plano or Frisco or along the service road of I-75, then call an experienced criminal defense attorney at the Law Offices of Richard C. McConathy.
Any cases involving the community care-taking function should be subject to a motion to suppress that is filed and litigated by an experienced DWI attorney. Call the Law Offices of Richard C. McConathy today (469) 304-3422 for a free consultation.
Community Caretaking Function
The community caretaking function comes into play in many DWI cases. In these cases, a person is asleep or unconscious in a parked vehicle. The officer begins an investigation without any reasonable suspicion or probable cause that a crime has occurred. The issue in those cases is whether the officer violates the individual’s Fourth Amendment right to be free of an unreasonable search and seizure.
Normally, a police officer or state trooper in McKinney, Frisco, or anywhere in Texas must have reasonable suspicion or probable cause to stop an individual. However in these cases, even without reasonable suspicion or probable cause that an offense has been committed, a police officer may, in accordance with his community caretaking function, “stop and assist an individual whom a reasonable person—given the totality of the circumstances—would believe is in need of help.” Wright v. State, 7 S.W.3d 148, 151 (Tex.Crim.App.1999) (citing Cady v. Dombrowski, 413 U.S. 433, 441 (1973)).
The community caretaking function is “totally divorced from the detection, investigation, or acquisition of evidence relating to the violation of a criminal statute. ” Corbin v. State, 85 S.W.3d 272, 276–77 (Tex.Crim.App.2002) (quoting Cady, 413 U.S. at 441). The exception concerns police functions such as assisting individuals who cannot care for themselves or who are in danger of physical harm, resolving conflicts, and reducing the opportunities for the commission of a crime. Flores v. State, No. 04-13-00548-CR, 2014 WL 7340279 (Tex. App. Dec. 23, 2014)(citing Laney v. State, 117 S.W.3d 854, 860 (Tex.Crim.App.2003).
Elements of the Community Caretaking Exception
To properly invoke the community caretaking exception, a Plano-area police officer must:
- be primarily motivated by his community caretaking function, and
- reasonably believe that the individual is in need of help.
In determining whether a police officer reasonably believed an individual was in need of help, the following factors are considered:
- the nature and level of the distress exhibited by the individual;
- the location of the individual;
- whether or not the individual was alone or had access to assistance independent of that offered by the officer; and
- to what extent the individual—if not assisted—presented a danger to himself or others.
Finding A Collin County Attorney for a Parking While Intoxicated Case | Law Offices of Richard C. McConathy
Many clients call us and ask “Can I be charged with DWI if I wasn’t even driving?” The short answer is that the prosecutor can charge the crime, but it will be more difficult for the prosecutor to survive the motion to suppress or get a guilty verdict at trial.
If the facts of your case show that you were “parking while intoxicated” or merely sitting in your parked vehicle when the officer began the investigation, then your attorney may need to file a motion to suppress alleging that the officer had no reasonable suspicion or probable cause. If successful then all evidence that the officer gained from that investigation might be suppressed (or thrown out).
Alternatively, at the motion hearing, the prosecutor might argue that no reasonable suspicion or probable cause is needed because of the community caretaking function. Hire an attorney that is prepared to argue this issue in a motion to suppress hearing and fight for the best possible result in your case.
Call Law Offices of Richard C. McConathy at (469) 304-3422 for a free initial consultation.