Sometimes a DUI charge can be a felony charge depending on the number of prior offenses, or if someone was either injured or killed as a result of the DUI. A Leesburg Felony DUI lawyer might be able to help make a strong defense in your felony case. In a felony DUI case, the stakes are so much higher, having a DUI attorney on your side may make a huge difference.
There are multiple ways in which DUI charges could be elevated to a felony offense in Leesburg. The most common reason is due to having multiple prior DUIs. If they have two prior DUI convictions within a five-year or ten-year period, it triggers the charge of a third-offense DUI which is a felony.
If someone has three prior convictions and a prior DUI, even if that prior DUI is longer than ten years ago, that fourth DUI is a felony DUI.
DUIs involved in a fatal accident may also qualify as a felony called DUI manslaughter. When someone is seriously injured, it is DUI maiming. These are all sub-sections of the same DUI felony statute. The most common is third offenses followed by fourth offenses, manslaughter, maiming, or other serious injury cases.
The main difference in the case process of a felony DUI compared to a misdemeanor DUI is if there is a trial, it does not occur in the general district court but circuit court. The general district court may have jurisdiction to certify if felony DUI was probably committed, but it does not have the ability to find someone guilty or not guilty of the felony. Only a circuit court of Virginia could do that.
There may be instances in which someone does not go to the district court for a DUI and the felony case may be initiated by direct indictment, meaning the case is presented immediately to a grand jury. This is more common in cases such as DUI manslaughter or DUI maiming in which there may be a prolonged investigation prior to the charges being brought.
Other differences between a felony DUI and other types of DUIs is the level of possible punishment. Generally, a felony DUI is punishable by one to five years in prison, or up to 12 months in jail. In the case of DUI manslaughter, there could be a much more serious penalty.
An attorney will take discovery, videos, and all the records and prepare just like any other DUI case. They are also going to look at the prior convictions or what else makes it a felony and not a misdemeanor to see how strong the prosecution’s case is.
Felony DUI charges are not always more difficult to defend, but they are always a matter of raised stakes. It is not uncommon for a felony DUI recommended sentencing by a jury to be extraordinarily harsh. A conviction could result in prison, indefinite license suspension, extraordinarily high fines, and a complete change in someone’s way of life. Hiring a local DUI lawyer to act as your advocate may help in the fight to avoid these sentences.
If someone is charged with a felony DUI for a third offense within ten years, that mandatory minimum may only be 90 days. If they are charged with a felony DUI after receiving a prior felony DUI — called a felony fourth and subsequent — that mandatory minimum period is one year. If they are charged with a felony such as manslaughter by DUI, they may face a substantially higher punishment including more than 10 years in prison.
A local DUI lawyer may understand what the prosecutor is looking at, what the judge is thinking, and what has happened in similar cases to help prepare the individual for what may come from the case.
Every case is unique and prior results are not necessarily indicative of future results, however, knowledge of the system may be able to help your Leesburg felony DUI lawyer defend your case. Contact a local DUI lawyer today to learn more about your options in a felony DUI case.
Patrick Woolley Attorney At Law