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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How Does The Injury Of The Victim In A Felony DUI Impact The Sentence?

This is a good question when it comes to a felony DUI. If you or a loved one is charged with a felony DUI, this is exactly some of the evaluations that you and your attorney need to be making. In order to even be charged with a felony DUI instead of a misdemeanor DUI – which has a lot less ramifications – there needs to be some sort of a serious injury. Then you start asking, what is a serious injury? A broken bone would be a serious injury, a laceration – some sort of a bad injury. So, there really is no perfect definition.

What it will boil down to in the end is, either you negotiate it as a non-serious injury and get the misdemeanor, or you admit it is a serious injury and end up with a felony, or a jury trial is had and the jury decides if it is a serious injury, and hence, a felony DUI versus a misdemeanor DUI. So, that’s how these cases are being decided.

Where it starts to get a little tricky in Los Angeles, as far as DUI’s and injuries, is what about the great bodily injury allegation? That’s different than a serious injury. Great bodily injury is a more sustained, lasting injury — a horrible broken bone, disfigurement. This great bodily injury concept is important because not only does it give you a strike — any case, including a felony DUI in Los Angeles where a person admits a great bodily injury allegation — that person is going to have a strike on their record the rest of their life. They’re going to serve a higher percentage of time in jail or in prison, if they get jail or prison for their felony DUI. So, this makes it a lot more of a serious circumstance.

You really need to get down to the nitty-gritty here — whether the injury is just a regular run-of-the-mill injury that shouldn’t be charged as a felony DUI — whether it’s just a serious injury — so, you get the felony DUI, but you don’t get that extra GBI allegation, which also carries a three-year prison sentence, most of the time at 85%. That’s just the minimum, then whatever you get for the DUI. If you get the low-term two for the DUI plus another three for the great bodily injury allegation, that’s five years prison at 85%. Now, you start to get a feel for how serious that is. And you get a strike on your record for the rest of your life in California.

These questions have to be dealt with very seriously when it comes to a DUI. You need an attorney who knows what they’re doing. I’ve been doing these felony DUI’s for twenty-five years. I’ve battled these great bodily injury allegations. I’ve even battled serious injury allegations and been able to get them struck and the client just gets a misdemeanor — no jail time, a fine. Huge.

Another thing that is an interesting twist when it comes to these felony DUI’s and injury, is who caused the injury? Because guess what? That can be a complete defense to a felony DUI. If you didn’t cause the injury — if somebody else caused it or somebody else was negligent or bad driving, whatever you want to call it — caused the person’s injury, and you just happened to be involved in the accident somehow, you’re not going to be responsible for that, and therefore, it can’t be a felony DUI against you. So, this is another area of argument.

As far as making a decision on that, if you’re DUI and you get involved in some sort of an accident, it’s going to be presumed that you caused the accident. So, in order to get rid of that presumption, you’re going to have to bring forth evidence through your attorney, obviously, that you didn’t cause the accident. I have a case going right now where my client is charged with a felony DUI – vehicular manslaughter – because there was a death on the road while he was allegedly racing with somebody else. But the defense is, and it’s a good one and we’ll either get the not guilty verdict or we’ll work some sort of a deal out — the defense is that he didn’t cause the accident because there was a design defect on the road, and therefore, the roadway, the way it was set-up, is what caused the accident. If that design defect wasn’t there, he wouldn’t have hit it and there wouldn’t be a death in this case. There’s an example of how causation is key in these felony DUI cases in Los Angeles.

So, if you have a felony DUI case, get in here immediately. Let’s talk about it. I do a lot of these cases – hundreds of them over the course of the last twenty-five years. I know how to set them up. I know how to investigate them. I know how to try them. I know how to negotiate them and I know how to get you the result that’s fair in your case and protects your freedom, your reputation and your rights.

For more information on Injury Of Victim In A Felony DUI Case, a free case evaluation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you are seeking by calling (213) 542-0963 today.

Contact a Los Angeles DUI lawyer

So, if you have a DUI in California, and specifically, Los Angeles, you’re going to want to get an attorney who has been down this road before and had success. Contact our Los Angeles DUI lawyers to review your case.