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What is the Dallas County DA's winning percentage?

What is the Dallas County DA's winning percentage? According to the DA its 99.4%, however, in reality it is much lower. If this number were true, a Defendant would have almost no chance of winning a criminal case. You might be wondering "How can the winning percentage be so high?" The answer is very creative math.

90-95% of all cases are resolved by a process known as a plea bargain. In a plea bargain, a Defendant pleas guilty to the charge in exchange for a punishment "bargain." For example, a Defendant's punishment range might be 2-20 years prison. In exchange for a guilty plea, the DA might offer a plea bargain of 5 years probation. Anytime a Defendant pleads guilty, the Dallas County District Attorney's office considers that a victory. As you can see, including plea bargains in the winning percentage in the ONLY way the DA could claim a 99.4% winning percentage.

What is the DA's actual winning percentage excluding plea bargains? Only the DA knows, and he won't tell us. However, as a former ADA in Dallas County, I can you tell what the real winning percentage was ten years ago. The misdemeanor jury trial winning percentage was about 50% and the felony winning percentage was about 75%. I suspect that the current misdemeanor conviction is a bit higher than 50%. Why? 65% of all misdemeanor cases are DWI's. In 2003, approximately 75% of all people arrested for DWI refused to provide a breath or blood sample. In 2013, individuals that have been accused of a DWI are given the opportunity to provide a breath sample. If the suspect refuses to provide a sample, the police will then get a warrant for the suspects blood. In short, the DA's office has had greater success prosecuting blood cases than they did prosecuting refusals.

Why is the felony winning percentage higher than the misdemeanor percentage? First, misdemeanor cases are generally "he said/ she said" cases that involve very little police work. The police expend more resources investigating felonies than misdemeanor cases. Secondly, the felony prosecutors are much more experienced than the misdemeanor prosecutors. Generally, DA's are hired as soon as he or she has passed the bar exam. When a new prosecutor is hired, that prosecutor is assigned to a misdemeanor Court. It makes sense that the rookie DA's handle the DWI's, while the experienced prosecutors handle the more serious cases.

If you have any questions, please feel free to contact the Law Office of G. Thayer Williamson.