Specializing in the defense of DUI cases, we have successfully resolved more than 500 felony DUI cases. As dedicated Orange County felony DUI attorneys, we comprehend the overwhelming nature of the process when facing the possibility of lengthy imprisonment. Leveraging our skills and experience, we employ cutting-edge defense strategies that have successfully aided numerous individuals arrested for felony DUI charges.
In the event that you find yourself with DUI charges, it is highly advisable to promptly seek the assistance of a DUI defense lawyer based in Orange County, such as the Law Offices of Hart J. Levin. Seeking legal representation is crucial for mounting an effective defense against felony DUI charges, as a conviction can result in severe penalties, including imprisonment, substantial fines, and the suspension of your driver’s license.
Understanding What Constitutes a Felony DUI in Orange County
A felony DUI is the most serious type of DUI offense. While most DUIs are misdemeanors with a maximum jail time of one year, a felony DUI can arise under various circumstances:
1. Prior DUI Arrests: A fourth DUI within a ten-year period is filed as a felony, carrying a maximum punishment of three years in prison.
2. Injuring Someone with DUI Accident: Felony charges are filed if injuries from the accident extend beyond minor injuries, even for soft tissue injuries. Serious injuries, such as broken bones, may lead to additional years in prison under the great bodily injury enhancement.
3. Vehicular Manslaughter: Causing the death of another person while operating a vehicle under the influence constitutes a felony DUI charge.
Additionally, a felony DUI can result from a prior felony DUI conviction. Future DUI arrests, even minor ones without an accident and with a low BAC level, can be elevated to felony charges, subjecting individuals to several years in prison.
California Vehicle Code 23153 plays a pivotal role in defining felony DUI offenses in Orange County. This statute specifically addresses cases where driving under the influence causes injuries beyond minor ones, potentially leading to enhanced charges and more severe legal consequences.
What Happens After a Felony DUI Arrest?
When arrested for a felony DUI in Orange County, the process and outcomes can vary. Bail for such charges typically starts at $100,000, requiring a substantial amount to secure release. The district attorney decides whether to file the case as a felony or misdemeanor based on the police report, and individuals may remain in custody until the case is resolved.
Risks and Punishments for Felony DUI
Felony DUI convictions carry significant risks and punishments, including:
– Prison Time: Ranging from 16 months and up, especially for cases with significant injuries.
– Fines and Restitution: Substantial fines and restitution to victims for medical bills, missed work, and other expenses.
– DUI Classes: Ranging from 3 to 30 months.
– License Suspension: From one year to 10 years.
– Community Labor or Service: Imposed as part of the sentence.
– Strike Offense: A felony DUI remains on your record permanently.
– Deportation and Immigration Consequences: Significant risk for non-U.S. citizens.
– Professional License Revocation: Impact on professional licenses (e.g., nursing, accounting, law).
– Background Check Challenges: Difficulty in finding employment, renting an apartment, or passing background checks.
Felony DUI Defense with Hart Levin
Facing felony DUI charges requires swift and aggressive action to preserve your freedom. The Law Offices of Hart J. Levin have a proven track record, with over 90% of clients avoiding prison time. If facing serious felony DUI charges, a consultation with our Orange County DUI lawyers can provide insights into defense options and strategies to secure your future. Contact our experienced team of lawyers now.
Felony DUI FAQs
1. How many DUIs is a felony?
Four DUIs in ten years automatically constitute a felony, even if prior DUIs were expunged or occurred outside of California.
2. Can you get a felony DUI expunged?
Most felony DUIs can be expunged or removed from your record after completing probation. Upon completion of probation, it is usually possible for us to request the court to downgrade the felony to a misdemeanor, commonly referred to as a “17b” motion. Following this, we can proceed to expunge the conviction entirely, resulting in the case reflecting a “not guilty” outcome. However, in felony DUI cases where the outcome is state prison instead of probation, expungement is not an option. Nevertheless, alternative avenues exist for removing the conviction, albeit with greater difficulty.
3. Can a DUI charge be elevated from a misdemeanor to a felony?
A DUI charge can escalate to a felony, especially with a high blood alcohol concentration (BAC) exceeding legal limits. In Orange County, where the legal limit is 0.08% for individuals aged 21 and older, surpassing a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.15% can result in the initiation of felony charges, but generally only when injuries are discovered while the case is pending.
4. Can you reduce my felony DUI charge to a misdemeanor?
Depending on the severity of injuries, it may be possible to have the felony dismissed and secure a misdemeanor DUI with minimal punishment. This involves authenticating medical records, employing investigators to scrutinize the credibility of the victim, or demonstrating that the injury is connected to a pre-existing condition.
5. What happens to my license with a felony DUI?
In cases of an accident with injury, the DMV typically suspends the license for one year, regardless of whether the DUI charge is reduced to a misdemeanor.