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If I am charged with a crime, can I be forced to provide physical samples?

Individuals who are charged with crimes have rights, but they aren’t always aware of those rights. For example, a common misconception is that individuals must submit physical samples when the police request them. Although this is true in some situations, it isn’t always.

Working with a Fort Worth criminal defense attorney can ensure that your rights are protected. While understanding the basics of the law is important, only a professional can advise you on whether or not you should provide physical samples. At Cole Paschall Law, we can help you.

DWI Samples

If the police believe you may be guilty of driving while intoxicated (or driving under the influence as it’s referred to in other states), they will probably ask you for a breathalyzer, chemical, or field sobriety test. But you might not need to comply. Every state has different rules regarding breathalyzer tests. In Texas, you can refuse to provide a physical breath sample at the station or in the field. However, refusing to submit to a breath test will result in some unpleasant consequences.

Everything you do from the moment the police officer pulls you over affects your case. This includes refusal to provide a sample. In accordance with Texas state laws, you can incur a 180-day suspension of your license for refusing a breathalyzer test the first time. Additionally, the court may be able to convict you of a DWI without the sample. Furthermore, you could face jail time.

In some cases, submitting to a sample is your top option. But this isn’t always the case. You could benefit from working with an attorney. They can assess the situation and determine your top course of action.

Why Would You Refuse?

Some people don’t realize that they have the right to refuse to participate in roadside exercises or to refuse a breath test, but it could prevent you from being convicted of a DWI. If there is no other strong evidence against you, then the case against you may hinge on breath results. On the other hand, if you do submit to a breath test and your blood alcohol concentration is over the limit, it may be very difficult to beat your charges. Without that evidence, the prosecution may not have the proof it takes to get you a conviction.

When the police first pull you over, you can opt to ask for a lawyer. In most situations, the police will continue with their investigation, but you’ll be on record as having asked for representation, which could help you in court. You can then gain advice on what you should do to improve your circumstances.

Other Physical Samples

If the police charge you with another crime, the situation is different than a DWI. Typically, you need to submit to requests for photos, fingerprints, and DNA.

According to Texas law, people charged with certain felonies must submit a sample of their DNA. Texas was the first state to require mandated DNA samples before a conviction. However, many other states have followed suit. To date, there are 18 states that demand DNA samples from accused felons when they are arrested.


Laws regarding fingerprinting are very clear and they do not vary by state. This is due to the fact that the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that submitting fingerprints is not protected under the Fifth Amendment. If you refuse to get fingerprinted, you may face the additional charge of obstruction of justice.

Working with a Fort Worth Criminal Defense Attorney

Many people wonder, “Do I need to provide physical samples after my arrest?” There is no easy answer to this question. The answer differs on a case-by-case basis.

To find out whether or not you should provide a sample, you should consult with an attorney. Our firm can help you make the right decision.  Furthermore, we can ensure that all of your other rights are protected. Here at Cole Paschall Law, we can give you the guidance you need.

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Attorneys Casey Cole and Shawn Paschall make an impactful difference on all of the criminal cases they handle. With more than 50 combined years of legal experience, our criminal defense attorneys in Fort Worth have a proven track record for great results at a great price. Residents throughout Fort Worth and Tarrant County have turned to Cole Paschall Law in times of trouble.

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Shawn W. Paschall is board certified in criminal law as designated by the Board of Legal Specialization.