DUI charges that constitute a third or subsequent offense within ten years (or less) of two prior DUI convictions are always elevated to felony status. The same is true of DUI charges while driving a commercial vehicle. A DUI offense can also be raised to felony status, regardless of how many previous DUIs someone has if it causes the death of another person or permanent and significant physical impairment.
The significant procedural difference between a misdemeanor and felony DUI is that the first hearing in the district court will be a preliminary hearing rather than a trial. At this hearing, the prosecution will only be required to show probable cause to support the charge, which is essentially the standard for whether the defendant was wrongfully arrested in the first place. It is a low and easy evidentiary standard for the prosecution to meet, and once met, the felony charge is sent up to be scheduled for trial in the Circuit Court. Circuit Court is the highest level of trial court that Virginia has, and it is the only court that has the power to accept pleas or hold trials that resolve felony charges.
If you are facing felony DUI charges, you should get in touch with an experienced DUI attorney today. Let a Prince William County felony DUI lawyer fight for you.
The first step an attorney takes in preparing a defense for a felony DUI charge is to confirm the elements of the offense, which make it a felony rather than a misdemeanor. This is usually due to having two or more prior DUI offenses, but could also be based on endangerment, serious injury, or death caused to other people by the alleged intoxicated driving behavior. Another step at the outset that an attorney will take is to confirm that the defendant is in the right district court based on their age, and that the court’s records of the charged DUI offense match the particular version of DUI charged in the arresting officer’s warrant or summons.
Felony DUIs involve higher potential punishments, both pre-trial and post-trial, which can detriment the ability to mount a full defense in several ways. The prosecution tends to have more leverage during negotiations for a felony DUI case since there are severe mandatory minimum jail time and licensing punishments for felony DUIs. Fortunately, a felony DUI lawyer in Prince William County has experience building effective defenses for felony DUI charges.
A conviction for a DUI fourth or subsequent offense within ten years of three prior DUI convictions is a Class 6 felony punishable by a mandatory minimum jail sentence of one year, a mandatory minimum fine of $1000, and an indefinite revocation of license or privilege to drive within Virginia.
A conviction for a DUI third offense within ten years of two prior DUIs is a Class 6 felony, which carries a mandatory minimum jail sentence of 90 days, a mandatory minimum fine of $1000, and an indefinite revocation of license or privilege to driving within Virginia. If the conviction is for a third offense within five years of two prior convictions, the mandatory jail time increases to 6 months. Third-offenders are eligible to reapply for lawful driving privileges starting five years after their third-offense conviction.
A conviction for a DUI that results in the unintentional death of another person is prosecuted as either involuntary manslaughter or aggravated involuntary manslaughter depending on whether the conduct of the driver demonstrates a reckless disregard for human life. A conviction for this offense carries a mandatory minimum jail sentence of one year.
Given all of the mandatory jail time, fines, supervised probation, and loss of licenses associated with felony DUI convictions, it is of great value to have a local and accomplished lawyer for a felony DUI defense. There are often slight maneuvers with local felony procedures, as well as varying tolerances of assigned prosecutors and judges, that can make consequential differences during plea negotiations, pretrial motions, evidentiary rulings at trial, and sentencing hearings. A Prince William County felony DUI lawyer could advocate for you and help you reach a favorable outcome to your case. Call today.