Felony DUI Defense Attorney
In California, driving under the influence is typically charged as a misdemeanor crime – but some cases could be filed as a felony DUI case. If you are convicted, the legal penalties are severe and include incarceration in state prison, huge fines, and the loss of your California driver's license.
If you have been charged with a felony DUI offense in Los Angeles County, it's critical to consult with a criminal defense lawyer at Cron, Israels & Stark immediately. We will thoroughly review the details of your case to start preparing an effective strategy.
Our Los Angeles criminal defense law firm provide aggressive DUI defense against any type of drunk driving charges. We have decades of combined experience in criminal law and have helped many clients achieve a successful outcome for felony DUI cases.
When Is a DUI a Felony in California?
Driving under the influence can be filed as either a misdemeanor or felony case in California. As stated, a DUI will normally be filed as a misdemeanor case – if it's a first-offense or there were no injuries. However, under California Vehicle Code 23153, a DUI will be filed as a felony if:
- You caused serious injury or death of another person while driving under the influence
- You have a past conviction for felony DUI
- You have three or more convictions for DUI or wet reckless in the past 10 years
DUI Causing Serious Injury or Death
If you have been charged with a felony DUI for causing serious injury or death of another person, the prosecutor must prove that you were driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol and your behavior was the cause of serious bodily injury to someone else.
You are considered “under the influence” if your mental or physical abilities are impaired to a point where you can't drive a vehicle with the caution of a sober person.
It should be noted this doesn't mean just any amount of alcohol in your body will cause your case to be filed as a felony DUI. In order for the prosecutor to obtain a conviction, they will have to prove your driving ability was compromised due to the amount of alcohol in your system.
Typically, a prosecutor will attempt to prove this critical factor by reviewing your blood alcohol level (BAC) at the time the accident occurred. In California, if your BAC is .08 or higher, you are legally considered under the influence.
If your BAC is under .08, they will normally attempt to use additional evidence to support their claim you were under the influence.
If you flee the scene of the accident, you could be charged with felony hit and run under Vehicle Code 20001.
Prior DUI Conviction, Felony DUI Conviction, or Wet Reckless
If you have prior convictions for driving under the influence, felony DUI, or a wet reckless, – then your most recent pending DUI case will be normally elevated to a felony DUI.
Again the prosecution will have to be able to show you were convicted of the prior DUI or wet reckless cases. If they are going to make a claim you have a prior felony DUI conviction and charge you with a felony DUI on your current case, they will have to be able to prove your prior conviction was for a felony case. This is important because in some DUI cases, you might have had your felony reduced because you successfully completed the terms of your probation – or had it reduced to a misdemeanor later.
Penalties for a Felony DUI in California
If you plead guilty to a felony DUI case in a Los Angeles County courthouses, you will be taken into custody for some period of time. There will be a minimum jail sentence of 90 days in county jail for a felony DUI conviction.
The main issue of exactly how much time will depend on various factors, including prior criminal record, extent of the injury to the victim, and your conduct related to the accident. The specific penalties you will face include the following:
- 16 months to 16 years in a California state prison
- A fine up to $5,000
- Suspension of your California driver's license for up to 5 years
- DUI school for up to 30 months
- Victim restitution
In addition to these criminal penalties for your felony DUI conviction, you will also face some collateral consequences, such as inability to secure employment, buy or rent a home, among others.
Defending Felony DUI Charges
There are many mitigating maneuvers that can be made by a DUI lawyer that can save you time in custody and to resolve the felony DUI charge in the most efficient manner possible.
It should be noted that not all felony driving under the influence cases should be handled the same way – because DUI cases depend on specific facts as to what happened and your past and present situation.
The first step is to sit down for a face-to-face meeting with an experienced drunk driving attorney who has handled serious DUI cases before and has a track record of success in felony DUI defense.
The attorney you choose can often be one of the most important decisions you will make. Remember, your lawyer is the one who representing your story to the prosecutors and judge. You need to feel comfortable with your lawyer can help them to the best of your ability.
An arrest for a felony DUI doesn't mean there is a conviction. You will have an opportunity to provide a defense to explain your conduct. If your DUI lawyer can present a convincing argument to the prosecutor, they might find it difficult to prove you are guilty – beyond a reasonable doubt.
A Los Angeles felony DUI attorney at our law firm can provide a variety of defenses against your felony driving under the influenced charges, including:
- You weren't under the influence at the time of the accident
- The accident didn't result is any serious injuries
- You don't have prior convictions for DUI, wet reckless, or felony DUI
- Police officer improperly performed field sobriety tests
- Breathalyzer equipment was improperly calibrated
- Unlawful police stop
How our Lawyers Can Help You
If you have been accused of a felony DUI in Los Angeles, call our law firm to review the details of your case and legal options. A felony DUI charge could result in years in county jail or state prison and you will lose your privilege to drive.
A DUI lawyer from our law office will take the necessary time to develop an effective defense strategy against your felony DUI charges. We must first closely review all the details of your case. Early intervention can be critical as witnesses can become difficult to locate and finding other exonerating evidence is important in your felony drunk driving case.
Contact Cron, Israels & Stark for a thorough review of your felony DUI case. Free consultation at 424-372-3112.