This is a big question because nobody wants to be charged with a felony DUI. You lose a lot of rights; you're looking at jail or prison time. So, many people are asking me when they're arrested for a DUI whether they're going to be charged as a felony or a misdemeanor. Several ways justify the prosecutors in Los Angeles County filing 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 real-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 claim 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 the injuries 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. You pick up any new DUI; even if it might have usually 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 most significant factors, though, is injury. If there's a bad injury, you can bet your bottom dollar the prosecutors will be looking to file the case as a felony in Los Angeles county.
This is not an entirely crystal clear area of the law as far as the injury goes. In other words, sometimes people claim they have a soft tissue issue when the reality is that they don't have that bad of an injury, and in that circumstance, we can often get the case filed as a misdemeanor.
Misdemeanor vs. Felony DUI
It's a huge difference when a case is filed as a misdemeanor versus a felony. You're not looking at as much time in jail or prison. You're not looking at the many ramifications that come 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 claim is a felony or misdemeanor, kind of center around several different factors. They're all going to center around the facts and circumstances of your particular case.
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 dealing with your DUI matter in the quickest, easiest way possible and get you the best possible result.