It is a common misconception that DUI is always a misdemeanor. In fact, there are a variety of scenarios under which a DUI can actually be a felony offense. The most common way a DUI can become a felony offense is when it is someone’s third or subsequent offense, meaning third, fourth, fifth, etc. After someone has been charged with their third offense DUI, either a third offense within 5 years or a third offense within 10 years, that third offense may be a felony offense, punishable as a Class 6 Felony which warrants attention from a Loudoun County felony DUI lawyer.
In addition, there are some other ways that a DUI can be a felony offense including when a DUI involves a significant injury, called DUI-Maiming, or when it leads to an unfortunate death, such as a DUI involving involuntary manslaughter. To learn more about these charges and the associated penalties call and schedule a consultation with a Loudoun County DUI lawyer today.
The main difference between a felony DUI case and a misdemeanor DUI case is in the procedure and in the penalties. A misdemeanor DUI case originates in General District Court and is usually resolved in General District Court. General District Court is a court not of record where the judge can find someone guilty or not guilty of misdemeanor offenses. However, General District Court does not have jurisdiction over felony offenses. The only thing a general district court can do in a felony offense is hold a preliminary hearing to determine whether or not there is probable cause that the felony has been committed and whether or not the person named is the person who committed the felony.
After a case is certified as a felony after the preliminary hearing, it goes to Circuit Court. The circuit court of a given jurisdiction is the trial court for felony offense and adjudicates the matter, as a jury trial, bench trial, or plea.
Felony cases actually give rise to more defenses than many misdemeanor DUI cases. This is because a felony case typically involves more discovery, more opportunities to gather information, and thereby more areas for the defense to state the potential issues with the case. Stating these issues is often done through pretrial motions or arguments before a judge or a jury.
The first step in a felony DUI case is the same as any other DUI case, and that is going to be to collect as much information as soon as possible. For a felony DUI case, this means trying to preserve evidence, filing discovery orders, talking to law enforcement officers, and talking to potential witnesses. The information gathering first step is critical for a strong defense.
With that said, it is important to have a Loudoun County felony DUI lawyer who is experienced in handling felony DUI cases because they are more complex and the stakes are higher. Felony DUI cases could involve a felony conviction. Any felony conviction is a serious matter and includes loss of certain rights, including a potential prison term and indefinite license suspension. Because of these high stakes, you want to make sure the attorney handling your felony case is experienced and comfortable handling both DUI and felony cases.
Patrick Woolley Attorney At Law