On May 23, 2018, the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals reversed the 14th Court of Appeals in Houston, and held that evidence of a single prior DWI conviction must be delayed until the punishment stage of trial if a person is found guilty.
A DWI second is a misdemeanor offense and any evidence of a prior DWI conviction is not admissible and shall not be mentioned to a jury unless a person is found guilty. The court reasoned correctly, finding a prior conviction is used only for enhancement and is not jurisdictional.
This is different from a felony DWI because those enhancements are used to establish jurisdiction. When a person is charged with a DWI and has two prior convictions, the felony court has jurisdiction over the case, and a jury is typically allowed to hear that a citizen has been previously convicted two times of DWI. It doesn’t matter if a person has been convicted eight times of DWI, the jury would only be allowed to hear about two during the guilt innocence phase of trial.
The full text of the case, Oliva v State can be found here.
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