Strategies for Reducing Charges in Felony DUI Cases in Los Angeles

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How to Fight Back Against Felony DUI Charges

Drunk driving charges carry a heavy social stigma, and they are earnestly prosecuted in the state of California. If you have previous DUI convictions or had aggravating circumstances surrounding your arrest, you could be facing felony DUI charges. In 2019, there were 4,920 felony arrests for DUI in California, and this number has been holding relatively steady for the last decade.

The bottom line is that if you go into the court system with felony DUI charges without an attorney representing you and protecting your rights, you could face years in prison. Learning how felony DUIs are charged and prosecuted in California is the first step toward understanding what you can do to protect your future.

What Makes a DUI Charge a Felony in California?

Most DUIs are misdemeanors, but a DUI can be charged as a felony in certain circumstances. A fourth DUI in a period of 10 years can result in a felony charge, and you’ll usually be charged with a felony if you have any previous felony DUI convictions. However, it is possible to be charged with felony DUI for even a first offense if there were extenuating circumstances. These include having a minor in the car with you or causing an accident that results in injury to someone else.

Felony DUI charges are extremely serious. If you have been charged with a felony DUI, you need experienced and aggressive legal representation. The DUI Defense Group has years of experience helping clients in Los Angeles and the surrounding area fight felony DUI charges, including getting them reduced.

Does a Conviction Count Against the Three Strikes Rule?

In 1994, California enacted the Three Strikes and You’re Out Law. This law allows for increased sentences and punishments for repeat felony offenders. Each violent or serious felony charge is a strike. If you get to three strikes, you face the possibility of 25 years to life in prison. A first-strike offense generally needs to be classified as a serious or violent felony, and it’s absolutely possible for a felony DUI to meet this qualification.

A DUI that is charged as a felony due to causing serious harm or death can qualify as a felony strike under the Three Strikes law. Any felony DUI can also qualify as a strike if the person already has a strike on their record. If this is your second strike, you can be sentenced to double the usual prison time for the offense and won’t be able to get the same amount of consideration for things like good behavior.

What Are the Penalties for a Felony DUI?

The penalties for felony DUI include substantial fines and lengthy jail or prison sentences. If the charges were upgraded to a felony because of previous DUI convictions and not because there was an accident causing injury, you could face up to 3 years in prison and a $1,000 fine. You will also need to pay fees for assessments and court costs. Your driver’s license can be suspended or revoked, meaning you will have to apply for an entirely new license after your revocation period is up.

If the DUI is being charged as a felony because there were serious injuries or a fatality, you could be sentenced to up to 25 years to life in prison. The fine is raised to $5,000, and you may also be ordered to pay restitution to the victims. Your license can also be revoked.

Is It Possible to Have the Charges Reduced?

Because of the severity of the penalties associated with a felony DUI and the possibility of it counting as a strike against your criminal record, it’s important to do everything you can to fight back and defend yourself against these charges. The most important thing you can do for your defense is to work with a qualified and knowledgeable DUI attorney. They will assess your case to determine what the best strategy is moving forward. In some cases, this may be negotiating with the prosecution to have the charges reduced.

Negotiating a reduction in charges generally requires that you plead guilty to the new charge. For example, if you are charged with a misdemeanor DUI, you may be able to get the charges reduced to a wet and reckless, which has lesser penalties than a misdemeanor DUI. With felony charges, the goal is generally to negotiate the charge down to a misdemeanor. This avoids a potential strike and means less jail time and reduced fines.

What Are Some Defense Strategies for Felony DUIs?

While the hope is always to get the charges dropped or an acquittal, this isn’t always possible. In some situations, the best-case scenario may be to get a felony charge reduced to a DUI. The attorneys at the DUI Defense Group can help make this happen by representing you in court, negotiating with the prosecution, and providing counsel to help you make the best legal decisions for your situation. If a charge isn’t able to be reduced, our team will go to work to defend you to the best of our ability. DUI defense strategies include getting evidence suppressed, calling into question the accuracy of chemical and field sobriety test results, and using forensic experts to undermine the prosecution’s case.

At the DUI Defense Group, we know how serious felony DUI charges are, and we have a track record of successfully representing clients facing these situations. Call 866-927-3295 to learn more.

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