Key Factors Between a Filing a Misdemeanor or Felony DUI Case in Los Angeles County

This is a big question because obviously, nobody wants to be charged with a felony DUI.  You lose a lot of rights, you’re looking at jail or prison time.  So, a lot of people are asking me when they’re arrested for a DUI whether they’re going to be charged as a felony or a misdemeanor.  There’s a number of different ways that give justification to the prosecutors in Los Angeles County to file a case as a felony.

DUI With Great Bodily Injury

One is if you seriously hurt somebody or if you cause great bodily injury to the DUI, you can bet your bottom dollar they’re going to file that case as a felony in LA County.

You’re going to be looking at custody time and a whole host of other issues related to your driver’s license, your criminal record, and your whole life will be on the line if you’re charged with a felony DUI because you seriously hurt another individual.

Fourth Arrest for DUI

Another way they can justify filing a case as a felony when it relates to a DUI is if it’s your fourth-time DUI.  That automatically gives the prosecutors the right to file a case as a felony DUI and again, you will be subject to prison time.  Most felony DUI’s that I see getting filed that are fourth-time DUI’s are typically looking at a minimum of 16 months in prison.

They could even get more time depending on what the injuries were to the other party.  There’s a three-year enhancement if you cause great bodily injury.  That makes the case a strike.

You won’t be able to vote.  You won’t be able to own, use or possess a gun or bullets, and again, you’d be looking at a significant amount of time in custody and loss of your driver’s license.

Prior Felony DUI Conviction

The other way I’ve seen them file a case as a felony is if you have a prior conviction for a felony DUI and you pick up any new DUI, even if it might have normally been a misdemeanor circumstance, they can file that case as a felony as well because you have that prior felony conviction in Los Angeles County or elsewhere related to a DUI matter.

So, that’s one of the biggest factors though, is injury.  If there’s a bad injury, you can bet your bottom dollar the prosecutors are going to be looking to file the case as a felony in Los Angeles county.

As far as the injury goes, this is not an entirely crystal clear area of the law.  In other words, sometimes people are claiming they have a soft tissue issue when the reality is, they don’t really have that bad of an injury and in that circumstance, a lot of times we can get the case filed as a misdemeanor.

Misdemeanor vs. Felony DUI

It’s a huge difference when a case if filed as a misdemeanor versus a felony.  You’re not looking at as much time in jail or prison.  You’re not looking at a lot of ramifications that come along with the felony conviction.

Nobody wants a felony conviction.  It will affect your rights.  It will affect your freedom.  It will affect your job.  It will affect your future and a whole host of other things.

So, these are one of the biggest things that I battle in these DUI cases is trying to get it down to a misdemeanor, if my client is good for a DUI but really shouldn’t be charged with a felony, and all of these cases, whether you’re deciding whether a case is a felony or misdemeanor, kind of center around a number of different factors and they’re all going to center around the facts and circumstances of your particular case.

Experienced DUI Defense Lawyer

That’s why it’s so crucial to hire someone like me who has been doing this for 25 years, knows how to deal with these DUI cases, knows what factors will influence a judge and prosecutor, knows what type of mitigating circumstances we can bring up to try and avoid that felony conviction for  DUI or at least set things up so you can later get the case reduced down to a misdemeanor, so you don’t have this felony haunting you for the rest of your life.

So, if you’re charged or booked for a felony DUI or even a misdemeanor DUI and you’re concerned when you get to court, they’re going to file it as a felony, pick up the phone, call me now.  We will start the process of dealing with your DUI matter in the quickest, easiest way possible and getting you the best possible result.

Hedding Law Firm
16000 Ventura Blvd #1208
Encino, CA 91436

Related Resources:
California DUI: What are the Penalties?
First-Offense DUI in California

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Who Prosecutes DUI Cases in the San Fernando Courthouse?

When it comes to defending a DUI in the San Fernando Courthouse, the typical prosecutors who are handling these cases is the City Attorney’s office.  They handle the bulk of the cases there.

They have an office on the fourth floor in the San Fernando Courthouse and they staff all of the misdemeanor DUI courts.  There is an exception to that though.  The District Attorney’s office handles all of the felony DUI matters.

The dividing line is a felony versus a misdemeanor in San Fernando.  However, some of the courthouses only have District Attorneys, so they’ll have to handle all of the DUI matters in those particular courthouses.

Los Angeles City Attorney Handles Misdemeanor DUI Cases

If you have a DUI matter in the San Fernando Courthouse, you can bet that typically the City Attorney is going to handle it, unless also another exception to this rule that the City Attorney handles DUI cases is when a crime occurs in the City of San Fernando, which is a very small area that makes up part of the San Fernando jurisdiction, then the District Attorneys will handle that particular case.

It is some sort of a contract issue with the city and this is why the DA’s office is handling a DUI or even other cases that occur in the City of San Fernando. See related: California Vehicle Code 23152.

Your best strategy if you have a DUI case, you should be looking at who is going to be handling it, but you should also, obviously look at what type of potential results you’re looking at from your DUI.

A lot of people who get DUI’s and have to go in the San Fernando Court have a spotless record and even those people who don’t have spotless records obviously want to end up with the best result.

Local DUI Lawyer Who Is Knows The San Fernando Court

You want an attorney who is local to the Court when you have a DUI case there, and what I mean by that is someone who appears there a lot.  My office is relatively close to the San Fernando Courthouse, but I’m there all the time.  That’s just an area that I’m known for practicing in.  I do a lot of DUI cases there.  I do a lot of other cases there as well.

So, if you have a DUI matter and you got a ticket — a yellow or blue ticket — and you have a court date pending the San Fernando Courthouse, then obviously you’re going to want to get someone like me to represent you.

Typically, what we do is go in and speak to the City Attorney on your behalf.  On the first court appearance we don’t make you go in.

We pick up whatever paperwork there is related to the case — the police report and any other items related to your DUI matter.  We review it and then I will talk to the City Attorney about it and talk to them about you.

Developing An Effective Defense Strategy

Obviously, I’m going to be looking at the factors that they’re going to look at — how high was the blood alcohol level?  Do you have a prior criminal record?  How dangerous were you when you were driving?  Were you speeding?  Did you get in an accident or did they just pull you over for some reason like swerving, not having your lights on or some other traffic-related violation.

That’s one of the big things the judges and prosecutors look at in DUI cases in San Fernando, and that’s how dangerous you were out on the road.

Because their tasked with protecting the public and if they’ve got somebody who is dangerous and intoxicated, they’re obviously going to want to punish that person and create a deterrent for them to get another DUI case.

So, pick up the phone now.  Contact our law firm and we can talk about your San Fernando DUI case and I can see what I can do to help you.

Hedding Law Firm
16000 Ventura Blvd #1208
Encino, CA 91436

Related Resources:
California DUI: What are the Penalties?

Will You Get Jail Time For Your DUI In Los Angeles?

This is a big question on people’s minds because obviously, nobody wants to go to jail.  It’s very confining and very stressful.  There are dangerous criminals in jail and it’s an unsafe place.  So, this is one of the biggest fears people have when they are arrested for a DUI in Los Angeles — whether or not they’re going to go to jail.  Believe it or not, whether you go to jail depends on a bunch of different factors.

DUI Courthouse and Prior Criminal Record

One is the courthouse where your case is pending.  That’s one of the first things you want to talk to your attorney about when you sit down with them — is this the type of courthouse that’s going to try to throw me in jail?  Are these the judges that do that type of thing on a first-time DUI?  Another factor is, obviously if you have any prior criminal record.

If you have prior driving-related offenses and/or prior DUI convictions on your record, then you can probably expect that the prosecutors are going to try to put you in jail in Los Angeles and you’re going to want to use your DUI defense attorney to pull out all the stops to prevent that from happening.

Public Safety Issues and Conduct Toward Police

Another thing they’re going to look at is the DUI itself.  How dangerous were you to the public?  That’s one of the big things the prosecutors and judges look at when deciding whether to throw somebody in jail to teach them a lesson for a DUI.  Were you swerving all over the road?  Did you get in an accident?  Were you going very fast on the road or on the freeway?

They’re going to look at how you performed on the field sobriety tests.  The prosecutors are going to look at how you acted with the police.  Sometimes the police put a lot of bad stuff in their police report in an effort to try to make you look bad because you were belligerent with them, didn’t cooperate with them.

I’ve had clients spit on the police, curse them out, threaten the police.  These are obviously all things that would make it much more likely that you’re going to end up with jail time when it comes to a DUI.

First Time DUI Offenders Don’t Typically Serve Jail Time

All that being said, all first-time DUI’s in Los Angeles, most of the time it’s a fair statement — and I’ve been doing this for twenty-five years, so I should know — it’s a fair statement that you are not going to get any jail time under that circumstance and you will be able to avoid having your freedom taken away.

So, that’s good news for those people who are worried about going to jail, but the best way to assess whether you’re going to go to jail or not, is to go and sit down with a DUI defense attorney who is local and understands the jurisdiction and the courthouse where your case is pending and then that attorney will be able to give you a good feel about your chances of going to jail in Los Angeles for a DUI; what can be done now before you go to court to make it less likely that you’re going to go to jail, and to be able to evaluate your case, your circumstances to see whether your case is the type of case where jail time will be sought by the prosecutors and judges.

Jail Alternatives

I get cases all the time where it is the type of case where the judge is going to try to give jail time, and we try to come up with not only alternative plans for jail, but also ways to show the prosecutor and judge that your actions were an aberration.  They’re likely to never happen again.  They don’t need to put you in jail to teach you a lesson.  This is what we have to show them.

We have to realize when we’re concerned about jail in a DUI in Los Angeles, that the prosecutors and judges are worried themselves to a degree, and if they give somebody jail time or don’t give somebody jail time, how that will play out in the future.  Will the person do something else more dangerous and put more lives at risk if they don’t punish them with jail.

So, if we can show them that they don’t need to give you jail time we’re in a very strong position to get you the result that you want and need. Contact our Los Angeles DUI attorneys to review your case and legal options.

Hedding Law Firm
Los Angeles DUI Lawyers
633 West Fifth Street
Los Angeles, CA 90071

Related Resources:
DUI Punishments and Penalties

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Stopped for DUI? Call a Lawyer Immediately

If you have been stopped on suspicion of DUI, your legal rights may be in jeopardy – even if a prosecutor has not yet filed formal charges against you. It is therefore important to contact an experienced DUI attorney as soon as possible after you have been stopped by law enforcement. Contact the Hedding Law Firm immediately after a DUI stop to protect your legal rights and preserve all defenses available to you. The sooner you call, the sooner we can achieve a fair outcome to your DUI case.

What Happens After a DUI Stop?

  • When an officer stops you for suspected DUI, he or she has the option for how to resolve your stop:The officer can ask you to submit to bodily fluid tests (breath, blood, urine) on the scene. Refusal to do so triggers an automatic suspension of your driver’s license under the “administrative per se” DUI statutes. If you have been issued an administrative per se suspension, you have ten days to request a hearing with the Department of Motor Vehicles. It is, therefore, highly important to consult with an attorney so that you do not miss this window of opportunity to challenge your license suspension.
  • If you submit to a breath test on scene and it comes back over the .08 blood alcohol limit, you will also face suspension of your driver’s license. In addition, the officer will issue you a citation to appear in court. The citation is later filed with the court, as well. This is the formal filing of criminal charges against you.
  • If your blood or urine is taken for testing, there will most likely not be an immediate result. Instead, the officer will send your sample to a law enforcement laboratory for testing. This does not mean that you are off the hook. If the sample comes back at greater than .08, a prosecutor will file formal criminal charges against you. You will be summoned to court by mail or process server.
  • Once formal charges have been filed, your DUI attorney can begin negotiating with the prosecutor or preparing for trial as appropriate. Your attorney will need time to interview witnesses (including the arresting officer), review the prosecutor’s evidence, and prepare your defense. The more time he or she has, the stronger your case will be.

As you can see, there are many steps in the DUI process, and almost all of them can have an improved outcome with the advice of an experienced DUI attorney. By getting legal advice early in the process and preparing your defense early, you will have improved chances of a successful outcome in the criminal case.

What Will an Attorney Do for Me?

Many people who have been arrested for DUI wonder how an attorney can help them. Usually, this either because they concede the fact that they were drunk or they believe that the evidence that the police gathered against them cannot be challenged.

First of all, it important to understand that the majority of DUI cases never go to trial. Instead, they are resolved through a plea bargain process in which the defendant pleads guilty in exchange for the prosecutor recommending that the judge impose a particular sentence – which usually avoids jail time or other serious consequences.

In some cases, there may be legal defenses that could result in an acquittal or the case being dropped. These include the following:

  • Arguing that the initial stop was not legally justified
  • Establishing that you have a medical condition that could inflate breathalyze results or cause symptoms that could be confused with those associated with alcohol intoxication
  • Impeaching the credibility of the officer who arrested you
  • Uncovering problems with the way your blood or urine samples were handled

Determining whether these or other defenses exist in your case is a complicated legal matter that requires significant legal training. For this reason, if you have been arrested for DUI in California, you should speak to an attorney as soon as you can. A lawyer will thoroughly evaluate your case, determine whether any defenses exist, and advise you how to proceed.

Contact a Los Angeles DUI Attorney

If you or a loved one has been stopped by an officer on suspicion of DUI, contact the Hedding Law Firm as soon as possible. Our experienced, aggressive attorneys will ensure that your rights are protected and your criminal case is resolved fairly. Call (213) 542-0963 or contact us online to schedule your consultation today.