Prosecutors treat third offenses seriously as they will view this person with a third offense DUI as someone who has the capability to abuse substances and who is not trusted to drive on the roads of Virginia without being under the influence. As such, the prosecutors feel that this person is a danger to the safety of the community and a danger to the other drivers on the road and so they are going to want significant jail time and significant penalties to deter them from doing this again in the future.
For this reason, if you are facing a third offense DUI charge in Chantilly, you need a DUI attorney who will be able to mitigate your charges and build your defense.
Third offense DUI charges are heard in the Fairfax County General District Court, the same place that the first two are heard, but under a slightly different circumstance. A third offense DUI in Chantilly within 10 years is considered a felony charge, so when someone goes to General District Court for a third offense DUI, they are going to be going for what is called a preliminary hearing. A preliminary hearing is the probable cause hearing where the prosecutor presents enough evidence against that person to show the judge that there is probable cause to take their case to trial.
For a third offense DUI case in Chantilly, although someone starts at General District Court, their case will ultimately be heard in circuit court in front of either a judge or a jury.
The first and second offense charges are treated as a misdemeanor offense, the lower of the criminal offenses someone can be charged with in Virginia. A felony offense is a different level and is more serious. A person’s case will be heard and tried at different courts and the penalties are more serious.
As such, the judge is going to look at a third offense DUI charge in Chantilly and hand out harsher sentences than for a first or second offense DUI. Because this charge is considered a felony, a negotiation could be a much better option. A third offense DUI is going to have different types of court dates than a first offense DUI, so there is going to be a preliminary hearing that leads to a circuit court trial either in front of a judge or a jury, which is different than for a first offense DUI where everything is in General District Court.
For a third offense DUI, there is the potential of significantly more jail time for a conviction and because the costs are so high, a lot of focus is going to be on mitigation, which will provide reasons for the judge or the jury to show leniency to someone, but also will convince the prosecutor into amending it down to a first or second offense DUI.
For a third offense DUI charge, a Chantilly attorney takes a similar approach to building a defense as for a first or second offense DUI charge. They would first look for flaws in the officer’s observations and in the Field Sobriety Tests. They would then look at all of the evidence to find places they could challenge throughout the case, including but not limited to, the breathalyzers, interactions with the officer, and any kind of observable behavior from the client, in order to avoid the felony charge.
If there is a situation where they can get the third offense DUI charge out of the felony offense category and into a misdemeanor DUI offense, Chantilly attorneys will try their hardest to do so. If a person is convicted of a felony, they will lose various rights in Virginia, including the right to vote and the right to carry firearms. The felony offense is going to be a bigger hurdle to getting employment or maintaining employment in the future, so a Chantilly attorney will know that avoiding a felony might be even more important than taking it to trial if the offense is overwhelming, and they will be able to advise their clients on these important decisions.