If you are arrested for driving under the influence (DUI) or alcohol or drugs, you could be charged with either a misdemeanor or a felony. A felony charge is more serious. It can lead to stiff penalties and have a harsher impact on your future.
But the line between what constitutes a misdemeanor DUI and a felony DUI is not always cut and dried. Certain mistakes or oversights by law enforcement could lead to you receiving a felony charge that isn’t warranted.
What is a felony DUI?
In California, there are two different ways in which a DUI can be charged as a felony – rather than a misdemeanor. One is if a person drove while intoxicated, and their driving ended up injuring another person. The other way is when it is the fourth DUI in ten years.
Felony DUI cases with injury to another person usually involve a collision. But not all collisions resulting in injury should necessarily be charged as felonies. In this post, we will discuss when a felony due to a collision can be discharged. Be proactive and have a former prosecutor on your side. Contact the Law Offices of Mark Deniz at (858) 751-4384.
How can a felony DUI be misscharged?
One way that a DUI can be inappropriately charged as a felony is based on assumptions by law enforcement regarding the severity of the injuries sustained. In the event of an accident, the police will arrive at the scene and draft a report. If they witness the other individual involved in the accident being taken away by an ambulance, for example, the officer may assume their injuries are severe – in accordance with the criteria for a felony DUI charge.
However, the other individual may have gone to the hospital as a precautionary measure for initial assessment – and may have been later released with no major injuries discovered. This critical information may not make it into the police report. This is why it’s extremely important to have a criminal defense attorney examine whether the other individual’s injuries really amount to a felony DUI.
What’s at stake
A felony DUI conviction can result in incarceration in state prison and a loss of civil liberties. In the state of California, it’s also more difficult to get a felony DUI removed from your criminal record than it is for a misdemeanor DUI. Having a criminal record can negatively impact many other aspects of your life – including your ability to get a job, obtain a loan, rent an apartment or go to college.
If you’ve been charged with a felony DUI, it’s important to get in touch with an experienced DUI attorney as soon as possible. They can proactively work to fight your charges and build a robust defense for your case. Be proactive and have a former prosecutor on your side. Contact the Law Offices of Mark Deniz at (858) 751-4384.