A DUI in Alexandria, Virginia can be a felony offense. If you committed three DUI offenses within 10 years or if you have two prior convictions and you get arrested once again for DUI, it will be charged as a felony. And, every additional charge above a third offense, including a fourth, fifth, sixth, or seventh offense, will all be felonies. It is commonly charged and it is a felony offense.
Prosecutors and judges in Alexandria will penalize harshly those people they believe have an alcohol dependency problem, aren’t actively trying to conquer the problem, and thus put people’s lives at risk by driving under the influence.
For the courts, if someone is facing a third or subsequent DUI, it is clear that the person has not learned their lesson and continues to disregard public safety. Though someone facing a felony DUI will likely face severe punishment, having an Alexandria felony DUI lawyer will be beneficial to reason with authorities.
In an Alexandria DUI felony case it is a felony instead of a misdemeanor, so the process is different in that your first court date will only be for preliminary hearing. If you are charged with a misdemeanor DUI, then your first court date in the General District Court will be for trial. However, there are no trials on felonies in General District Court. There are only preliminary hearings. A preliminary hearing is just a probable cause determination. It is not the final determination of guilt or innocence.
The Commonwealth just has to provide enough evidence to show that there is probable cause to believe you have committed the offense. That is one way that the process differs. In a misdemeanor case, if you do have a trial, you have a right to appeal that to the Circuit Court de novo, meaning brand new.
In a felony case, you only have one right to trial, but that is a trial with a jury in Circuit Court. That is after the preliminary hearing. If you are charged with felony DUI, you are entitled to have a jury hear your case.
Another difference is a felony case has 12 jurors while a misdemeanor only has seven. If you are charged with a felony, you will have more jurors. These are some differences between the procedures of a DUI felony and a DUI misdemeanor in Alexandria.
An Alexandria DUI felony can be punished by up to five years in jail. The stakes are higher. However, the actual defense is very much the same. You are looking at the same types of things. Since a felony DUI requires conviction for predicate offenses, meaning prior DUI convictions, one major difference between the felony and misdemeanor DUI is that your attorney should be trying to show that the prior convictions were not substantially similar to the DUI that you have now.
Each state has their own DUI law and just because you are convicted of a DUI in one state does not mean it necessarily can be used as a predicate offense in Virginia.
Additionally, your DUI attorney helping you fight a felony charge in Alexandria should be making sure that the prior orders of conviction were entered appropriately. Sometimes judges make mistakes and mess up on the order of conviction. Overall DUIs can be very difficult cases to defend either way and the escalation of a charge to a felony does not make it too much more difficult.
It always helps to have experienced felony DUI attorney in Alexandria. Again, law enforcement officials in the area are unlikely to be sympathetic to someone who is facing a felony DUI charge. However, a knowledgeable lawyer will know the possible defenses and they know how strong the Commonwealth’s evidence is. They know the likely outcomes. They can advise their clients on all these items and they know the court system itself, which is always beneficial. It always helps to have an attorney.
Felony DUI cases are not necessarily harder than a misdemeanor case, but there is more at stake because the person is charged with a felony. A felony conviction and/or charge does not look good on a person’s record and may negatively impact a person’s ability to procure work in their future.
As a first step in a felony DUI case it is important to have an open conversation with a client about the facts of the case. It does never benefits a defense to be surprised by the facts while the case is already in court. A good conversation from the beginning benefits both the client and the defense counsel representing them.
Included in the frank discussion would be a reminder about potential outcomes and goals of the case. This way an attorney and their client are on the same page, and can start gearing up to aim for the same goal.
Another important step in the process what is called discovery, which is the process by which the defense receives the Commonwealth’s files. This is important so that the defense can review what the police have against their client as soon as possible and can start building their case.
An experienced felony DUI lawyer in Alexandria will know to look into prior convictions to see if there are any issues with them. They will also be careful to order the maintenance logs for any machines used to analyze a client’s blood alcohol content.
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