Prince William County Felony DUI Lawyer
A DUI charge could be elevated to a felony offense for two reasons. First, if it is the third or subsequent DUI within a period of ten years, it automatically becomes a felony charge because of the two prior offenses.
The second way that a DUI becomes a felony is if there was an accident or some other event that occurred as a result of the DUI and injured another person. This is called the DUI Maiming Statute, and it requires that the injury to the other person be serious and permanent. If those two things are present, they could charge them under the DUI Maiming Statute, as well.
If you were charged with a felony DUI due to prior convictions or an accident, you need a strong defense. Local prosecutors take these charges serious, and you could face jail time without skilled legal representation. Reach out to a Prince William County felony DUI lawyer for help with your case.
Felony DUI vs Misdemeanor DUI
The case process of a felony DUI is vastly different compared to a misdemeanor DUI. The first major event in a misdemeanor case is a trial date. Once someone goes through the arraignment, possible bond motions, and all of the preliminary process, they will receive a trial date. That is the day on which their guilt or innocence is determined.
With a felony, the first significant step in the process is a preliminary hearing, which takes place in the General District Court. It is an opportunity for a judge to evaluate the merits of the case and determine whether or not probable cause exists. If the court finds that probable cause exists, the case will be elevated to the circuit court, which is where their trial will take place.
Preparing a Defense for Felony DUI Charges
The steps an attorney would take in preparing a defense for felony DUI charges in Prince William County are similar to a standard DUI. However, building a felony DUI defense often requires more research. For example, if the accused is alleged to have two prior predicate offenses, investigators need to look at those offenses and see where they took place. If they occurred outside the state of Virginia, they need to check whether the law in the other state is substantially similar to the DUI laws in Prince William County. This helps determine whether that predicate offense could be used to enhance the DUI to a felony level.
If it is a DUI under the Maiming Statute, they need to see what the injuries are to the other party and determine if they are serious injuries causing permanent impairment. Notably, some injuries that are serious but not permanent, and some injuries are permanent but not serious. A Prince William County felony DUI attorney needs to see what elements of the crime could elevate it to a felony, which adds an extra layer to the defense.
How are Felony DUI Charges More Difficult to Defend?
A felony DUI charge is more difficult to defend because it implies to a jury that the defendant has already been convicted of two prior DUIs. The only way they could find someone guilty beyond a reasonable doubt on a felony DUI is to know what those predicate offenses were and where they took place. The jury could harbor negative connotations about the defendant if they think they have already committed two or more DUIs. They are going to think it is likely that they committed a third.
Felony DUI charges that result from serious and permanent physical injury to someone are typically inflammatory to a jury, which make them more difficult to defend. If a jury is already predisposed to the defendant’s past guilty verdicts, it makes a valid defense more difficult to establish.
Penalties for a Felony DUI in Prince William County
The penalties associated with a felony DUI in Prince William County, aside from carrying the felony designation, include mandatory minimum jail time. The amount of jail time depends on when the predicate offenses took place. If they had two predicate offenses within a five-year period in addition to the felony distinction, there is a mandatory minimum sentence of six months in jail or prison. If the predicate offenses occurred within a ten-year period, the mandatory minimum sentence is 90 days.
The Value of a Local Lawyer
The value of a local Prince William County lawyer is having an attorney that is intimately familiar with felony DUI cases, the courthouse, all of the players that are in the courthouse, and the procedures that take place in the courthouse. This is an advantage for a defendant because every prosecutor and judge is different. A local lawyer knows how to talk to these folks and has a good, working reputation with them.
For these reasons, you should call a Prince William County felony DUI lawyer today to help you assess the details of your case.