A DUI can be a felony offense if it is your third or subsequent offense within ten years. So while first and second offense DUI is likely going to be a misdemeanor, a third, fourth, fifth or subsequent DUI offense, is going to be a felony. When this happens, you are looking at very severe penalties that warrant attention from an experienced Fairfax DUI lawyer.
A felony DUI lawyer in Fairfax can look at the facts and circumstances of your case and determine the strongest course of action to minimize the harm of your charges. Call today to learn more.
The process is completely different when you’re charged with a felony instead of a misdemeanor. In a misdemeanor case, you start out in a Virginia General District Court where you will probably be tried for the misdemeanor. If you are unhappy with the results of the trial, you can appeal that trial and have a new trial in the circuit court.
In contrast, the first phase of a felony case will be heard in general district court, but you will not have a trial there. There are no trials on felonies in general district court. Instead, what you have is a preliminary hearing, which is a basic evidentiary hearing to determine whether there’s probable cause to believe that you committed a third or subsequent DUI offense. Since this is not a trial, you probably won’t be dealing with a Fairfax felony DUI lawyer yet at this stage. It is merely the judge determining whether there is probable cause to believe that you committed an offense.
After that, if the judge does find probable cause to believe that you committed a DUI felony in Fairfax, the case will be referred to the grand jury. The grand jury is a group of individuals subpoenaed into grand jury service. They hear cases and determine once again whether there’s probable cause to believe that you committed a felony.
If the grand jury finds probable cause, your case will go to the circuit court. When you get to the circuit court, you will have a trial on the felony, enter a plea to the felony, enter a plea to a lesser offense or have the case dismissed (if you’re extremely lucky and the prosecutor agrees to hear your case).
So the process is much different for a felony, and there are numerous ways that it varies from a misdemeanor offense. For specifics regarding your case, call a felony DUI attorney in VA today.
DUI cases—whether they deal with misdemeanors or felonies—are tough in general, so it’s always good to have someone who has experience with DUIs and knows what defenses have worked in the past. DUI felonies are no exception, but since felony charges are more serious and the consequences are much greater it’s especially important to have an experienced Fairfax felony DUI attorney.
In general, it always helps to have experienced counsel because somebody who has experience with your type of case can help you understand the possible outcomes. Furthermore, an attorney who knows what defenses work and has experience with the prosecutors, judges and police officers involved in your case can increase your chances of achieving a desirable outcome. That’s tremendously important in a Fairfax DUI felony case in which you’re facing a long period of jail time and other serious consequences such as long-term loss of license.
The first thing a Fairfax DUI attorney will want to do in almost any case is get a fair understanding of what happened to the client. This involves sitting down with the client and get his or her version of what occurred. After that, the next step is to look at the Fairfax prosecutor’s case to see what they’re alleging. This step is important because sometimes there is a difference between what the client says happened and what a police officer says happened.
The next step is discovery, which means looking at the commonwealth’s case and determining what direction a prosecutor is going to go at trial. In the meantime, an attorney can order records for any breathalyzer machine used in the client’s testing. After that, there will be a better understanding of the case and a defense can start to be built
At that point, it’s important to start to look at all possible defenses, considering whether perhaps there was no reasonable suspicion for stopping the vehicle or no probable cause to arrest you. A Fairfax DUI lawyer will also look at whether the inferences that the police officer made from your performance in the field sobriety tests were actually incorrect or whether there’s a plausible explanation for why you performed the way you did.
An attorney can then go to the law and see if there are any legal defenses, and make any pretrial motions that are appropriate to help exclude evidence or have the charges dismissed altogether. Then if the case still needs to be fought, prepare for trial.