Third offense DUI charges are felonies, which means that there are two levels of hearings in these types of cases. Initially, the charge will be heard at the Dumfries General District Court which will have a preliminary hearing to determine whether there was probable cause for the case to go forward. If that determination is made, then the trial of a third offense DUI will be handled in the Circuit Court. Because this offense is charged as a felony, it is important to take a third DUI charge seriously and contact a Dumfries DUI lawyer right away.
Third offense DUI charges are prosecuted very vigorously. They are felony charges which come with minimum mandatory jail sentences that are measured in months, rather than years, depending upon how long ago the previous offense has happened. Third offense DUI defendants are considered by prosecutors to be some of the most dangerous defendants in the community. Accordingly, they seek to get a conviction in every case and have the harshest punishment possible imposed.
Courts treat third offense DUI charges very seriously because they are felony charges which are the most serious classification a person can be charged with. Courts will take these matters seriously, consider them deliberately, and in appropriate cases, impose harsh punishments.
A third offense DUI is a felony and it comes with all of the loss of rights and privileges that any felony comes with. This means that a person loses their civil rights and can no longer vote, hold public office, or possess a firearm. In addition, there is a minimum mandatory jail sentence of one year and an indefinite suspension or revocation of their driver’s license. These privileges cannot be restored except by a separate petition made to the circuit court subsequently.
The time between DUIs for a third DUI matters. A third offense within 10 years, while very serious is not treated quite as harshly as a third offense within five years.
There are no diversion programs or probation which are offered for third offense DUIs. Because they are felonies, prosecutors seek convictions from these cases.
The court and prosecution’s treatment of the defendant differs in a number of respects depending on which offense a person has committed. One of them is that the case is actually heard in a Circuit Court rather than a General District Court. Another is that it results in a felony conviction rather than a misdemeanor conviction.
In addition, because it is a felony in some cases, the government will ask for a jury to hear these kinds of cases which can lead to—in many cases – more harsh punishments for the defendant if they are convicted.
There are a number of ways that the DUI attorney can build a defense for a third offense DUI. The first one relates to forcing the government to prove that there are, in fact, two prior cases which resulted in a conviction. The attorney will also look at requiring the government to prove all of the facts of their case which are necessary for conviction. In addition, they are on the lookout for any violations of constitutional rights which may result in important evidence being suppressed at trial.
The defense attorneys consider a number of factors, one is what the person’s record is, and another is the facts and circumstances of the case including driving behavior as well as how the individual behaved during their encounter with the police. This includes how they walked, how they talked, how they spoke, what statements they made in Field Sobriety Tests, and a preliminary breath test to the course blood alcohol tests administered at the police station.
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