A simple DUI charge, even a second or third charge, are all misdemeanors under Florida law. But there are certain elements that could push a DUI into a felony, which will raise the stakes. If you are at risk of even harsher penalties than would normally come with a DUI, you need to immediately retain a Winter Garden felony DUI lawyer.
A DUI can be charged as a felony for multiple reasons. One way is if the DUI led to a manslaughter charge, meaning that while the defendant was under the influence of drugs or alcohol, they were involved in an accident and killed someone. DUI with serious bodily injury can also be charged as a felony. In addition, if it is someone’s fourth DUI, that is also going to be charged as a felony, even if there is no accident.
Felony charges are serious because if the person is convicted, not only will they be convicted of DUI, but they will be a convicted felon. This may mean losing their right to vote and possess firearms, and having to identify themselves as a convicted felon on their job applications. The prospect of a felony conviction raises the stakes and makes things a lot more difficult because the person cannot even enter into a plea deal without being branded a convicted felon for the rest of their lives. In addition to that, there is also mandatory prison time.
If the felony is due to being charged with a fourth DUI, the goal of a Winter Garden attorney is to see if there were defects in any of the prior convictions. If the state charges someone with a fourth DUI, but they cannot prove the second DUI, then they likely cannot treat this as the fourth arrest.
If there was a serious bodily injury, then a lawyer should look at the medical records to see if the state can prove that the other person was actually injured. If not, then the charge should be a misdemeanor DUI.
With DUI manslaughter, most of the focus should be on whether the state can prove the identity of the deceased, and on whether the state can prove the defendant was impaired.
A local attorney will probably know the judge and how they are likely to rule on a lot of the legal issues and negotiate with prosecutors. Most of the time, the prosecutor on the case will have had many past interactions with a local attorney, as opposed to someone who is not local to the Winter Garden area.
The stakes are much higher for felonies than for misdemeanors, making them more difficult to defend. The defense is usually stuck between a rock and a hard place unless there are weaknesses in the state’s case, because if the defendant pleads guilty, they will be a convicted felon and go to jail, but if they go to trial and lose, the defendant is a convicted felon and probably going to prison. It is critical for a lawyer to lay out the situation to the defendant and proceed carefully with their defense.
For a fourth DUI, the minimum penalty fine is around $5,000 but the state could also seek a much higher fine. A conviction could result in up to five years in prison.
You will be at serious risk if you do not have a criminal defense attorney to help you fight a felony charge. The penalties will be severe and even a plea deal will come with consequences. Call us today and speak with a Winter Garden felony DUI lawyer and get experienced representation.
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