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

  • By: Ronald D. Hedding
  • Published: February 11, 2019

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.

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

Ronald D. Hedding

About the Author Named Top Los Angeles DUI Defence Attorney by LA Times and named one
of the Top 100 DUI Defence attorneys in California by the National Trial
Lawyers Association. I'm the attorney other lawyers hire to defend them.