While first and second DUI charges are both very serious, Arlington law enforcement view third-offense DUIs much more negatively. After someone has already been charged with a DUI, Arlington courts and prosecutors will view subsequent offenses as evidence that the person has not learned their lesson. Once someone gets to the point where they have been charged with driving under the influence for the third time, the courts are going to dole out very harsh punishments.
The courts and prosecutors believe someone that has been charged with a third-offense DUI is a danger to public safety. Contact a DUI lawyer as soon as possible to begin crafting a defense for your case as soon as possible.
Third-offense DUI charges are felony offenses if the three DUIs occur within a certain amount of time. The first place they’re heard is in the General District Court, which is on the third floor of the Arlington Courthouse. In General District Court, your case will not be on for trial, rather your case will be set for a preliminary hearing. Because it is a felony, there is no trial. There are no trials on felony matters in the General District Court. It will merely be for a preliminary hearing.
A preliminary hearing is just a hearing in which the Commonwealth or State must show there’s probable cause to believe that you committed the offense. They also need evidence to show that there’s probable cause you were convicted of a DUI two times prior.
Next, if the judge finds that there is probable cause to support a DUI conviction, they will send the case over to the grand jury and the case will eventually end up in Circuit Court.
Additionally it is possible that on a DUI felony, if the prosecutor wants to amend the charge to a misdemeanor and have a plea, then you can plea to a misdemeanor in General District Court. No matter what, the first place your case would be heard for a third-offense DUI in Virginia, and in Arlington specifically, is in the General District Court.
You build a defense to a third-offense DUI very much like you do a first or second offense. The only difference is that an Arlington DUI attorney will be looking at prior convictions to make sure that they’re adequate. Sometimes, judges make mistakes on the signing of the order and there are problems with the previous convictions that would lead to a conclusion that they are not proper convictions. Perhaps an attorney is looking to get those reduced if they can.
Additionally, if your prior convictions are from another state, the laws in that State regarding DUIs must be substantially similar to the DUI laws in Virginia. This means that even if you are technically on your third-offense DUI, it cannot be considered a third or subsequent offense if the prior convictions are from a state in which the laws are not substantially similar to the laws of Virginia.
Additionally, an Arlington attorney will always be looking at any case to see whether there was reasonable suspicion to stop the vehicle. If the police cannot articulate reasonable suspicion as to why they pulled you over, either for a traffic offense or for a DUI, then all of the evidence that comes from that illegal stop can be suppressed.
If evidence is suppressed, this means it cannot be admitted at trial, and that can be a successful way to get your charges dismissed.
A lawyer should also be looking to determine whether there’s probable cause to arrest you. The police must be able to point to specific facts to show that they had probable cause to arrest you. If they cannot do that, then that means the arrest was illegal and the case could be dismissed. Lastly, your attorney will be looking to all the evidence to determine whether there’s sufficient evidence to find you guilty.
Even if you have been twice convicted before, it doesn’t mean you’re guilty of a DUI automatically. Every case is different. Each case presents its own factual scenario and your attorney will be looking at every fact in your case to find the best possible defense you may have.
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