Third offense DUI cases in Fairfax are felonies and are first heard in the General District Court. The General District Court does not do trials or pleas on felony charges. In General District Court only a couple of things can happen to your case on a DUI-3rd offense. Read on to learn more before calling a Fairfax DUI lawyer to discuss your case in more detail.
The first, and most common event that can happen in General District Court on a 3rd offense DUI charge is that you either have a preliminary hearing or you waive that right. A preliminary hearing is an evidentiary hearing where the Commonwealth has to put forth enough evidence to prove to the court that there is probable cause to believe that you committed the offense as charged. In some circumstances, it is to your advantage to waive the preliminary hearing, but that is a determination that you and your attorney will need to make.
Also in GDC, you have the ability to plea to a misdemeanor offense if the Commonwealth has made you an offer that you want to take. This too will be a decision you must make after consultation with your attorney.
The last and least likely event in General District Court is for the prosecutor to dismiss the charges against you. Because prosecutors take 3rd offense DUI charges so seriously, they are unlikely to do this unless there is a major problem with their case. They will often leave open the option to bring the case back should they be able to fix the problems in their case.
If there is a preliminary hearing and the judge determines that there is probable cause to believe you’ve committed a felony, the case will be bound over to the grand jury. A grand jury is a group of citizens convened to determine whether there is, in fact, enough evidence to present an indictment against you for DUI third offense. If you are indicted on a DUI third offense within 10 years, it is a felony charge. and your case will be moved to Circuit Court where you will either go to a trial on the felony with either a jury or a judge or to plead guilty to either a reduced charge or to the 3rd offense DUI. Once again, if you’re able to convince the prosecutor to dismiss the charges, then that can still happen.
Courts, prosecutors, law enforcement and the community all take DUI third offenses very seriously. Prosecutors are very reluctant to make offers to reduced charges or to go lightly on punishment in these offenses because repeat DUI offenders are a great concern to the safety of the community. To help ensure the safety of the community and to punish offenders who have been unable to “learn their lesson” from two previous DUIs, prosecutors prosecute these cases vigorously.
If you are convicted of a third offense DUI charge in Fairfax or elsewhere in Virginia, your license will be suspended indefinitely. That means for an indeterminable amount of time. For a certain amount of years, you can reapply; the courts are hesitant to give licenses to people who had the license indefinitely suspended to the three DUIs.
You should be looking for an experienced attorney to represent you on your third offense DUI in Fairfax. Experience is crucial in obtaining a successful outcome in court. Experience allows the attorney to know the possible defenses, the prosecutor’s interests are, who the police officer is, what mistakes are more common in their arrests, and what are the judge’s proclivities and interests. They know how to build successful defenses, both based upon the facts and the upon law, because they know through experience what has worked in the past. They truly know the potential outcome should you go to trial and will be able to predict the possible success of potential defenses. And having tried cases like yours in the past they will bring a knowledge and comfort level which will be invaluable to your case.
For these reasons, experience is the primary thing you should be looking for and that includes local experience within the jurisdiction of the charge. This experience is important because while every jurisdiction uses the same general law, it is different in the way it is applied and the typical dispositions vary tremendously. With this said an attorney experienced in local DUI cases will know everything from where to stand in court to more complex things like jurisdiction specific procedures that can end up having a big impact on the overall outcome of your case.
For this reason, it is extremely important you get an experienced attorney and one who is experienced in the jurisdiction where you are charged if you are facing a DUI third offense in Fairfax.