A Virginia Beach DUI can be a felony offense if the DUI is the third or fourth offense within 10 years or less. That’s really the most common way that a DUI becomes a felony. Another way that’s not really as common is if the incident in question is a lot more serious than somebody driving under the influence. For example, if the incident results in significant injuries or somebody is killed as a result of a DUI accident.
Someone who is facing a felony DUI charge should try and contact a Virginia Beach felony DUI attorney as soon as possible. Felony charges are very serious and a felony charge DUI should not be dismissed as a simple charge that will only result in a few demerit points on one’s license.
Felony DUI cases are different because the process for felonies is different in general from that of misdemeanors which is what first and second offense DUIs would be. For felonies, the preliminary hearings would be in the General District Court, which is a hearing before the trial is actually scheduled, in which the Commonwealth has to show that there is enough probable cause that there should even be a trial at all. If the judge determines that the Commonwealth has reached this burden which is a pretty low standard, then the DUI becomes certified to the grand jury and the trial is heard in the Circuit Court.
Having an experienced felony DUI lawyer in Virignia Beach really matters because of the potential penalties someone would be facing in a felony case. A felony DUI has a mandatory minimum jail sentence of 90 days if the offense is within 10 years, and of six months if the offense is within five years. There is also a minimum fine of $1000 and not to mention that a felony conviction has extremely dire consequences on your future because it affects your right to own a firearm, your right to vote and your ability to obtain a whole variety of jobs.
With a felony DUI, it is important to hire an attorney who will try to get the defendant into some kind of counseling or treatment program right away. Participating in a counseling program will reflect well on someone when their case goes to court. The court may offer some leniency for those they see as taking steps to remedy what has obviously become an issue. The difference in a third offense is that the first two convictions are also analyzed.
An experienced Virginia Beach felony DUI lawyer will see if there is any type of mistake or reason to remove one of the prior convictions as invalid, then the current felony turns into a misdemeanor instead.
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