In most cases, a DUI is a misdemeanor—which isn’t to say it’s not serious. Even with a misdemeanor conviction, you can face fines, jail, and severe restrictions on your driving privileges. But, in our experience, misdemeanors generally don’t do serious damage to people’s lives over the long-term.
Sometimes, however, a DUI constitutes a felony. Felonies come with much more serious consequences than misdemeanors. The fines are bigger, the jail terms are longer, and a felony conviction can hang over every aspect of your life, preventing you from getting a job, from voting, from owning a gun, and so on.
If you face felony DUI charges, get legal helpright away. Your most treasured liberties and freedoms are at risk. Contact Schnipper Law, P.C., today at (404) 545-5845 to learn more about how we can help you avoid the potential consequences of a felony DUI charge.
What Makes a DUI Charge a Felony?
Most DUI charges follow a relatively straightforward track. For your first misdemeanor offense, you usually face well-established consequences: generally a year-long license suspension along with other fines and penalties.
The state may charge you with a felony DUI, however, if:
- You caused substantial personal damage or property damage while under the influence of drugs or alcohol. If you caused serious harm to another person, including life-altering injuries, due to driving under the influence, you may face up to five years in jail and a fine of up to $5,000.
- You have racked up more than three DUI charges within a 10-year span. On your fourth DUI charge in ten years, you may face felony charges. Your fourth conviction could end in up to 5 years in prison and a fine of $5,000.
- You killed someone while driving under the influence. Vehicular homicide often carries a penalty of up to 15 years in jail and fines totaling thousands of dollars.
- You committed manslaughter while under the influence of drugs or alcohol. If you committed manslaughter, you may face more years in jail due to your felony charges.
- You had a child with you in the car. If that child suffered injury or endangerment, you may, in some cases, face felony charges for endangerment of a minor.
You may also face additional penalties if your DUI occurred while driving on a suspended license. In addition to the other penalties described above, you may also face the permanent revocation of your license due to repeated DUI charges or a felony DUI charge.
Regardless of the offense that led to your felony DUI charges, you need a lawyer to negotiate and fight on your behalf. Not only will you face immediate legal consequences for a felony DUI, you may face personal consequences that last long after your prison term ends and you have paid all the associated fines and fees. A felony DUI charge will appear on background checks, which can prevent you from obtaining certain jobs or even seeking certain types of employment.
How Can You Defend Against Felony DUI Charges?
In the case of a felony DUI, you need a lawyer who understands the system inside and out and can help defend you, protecting your freedoms and hopefully preventing you from facing more serious consequences. Several common methods can help defend against felony DUI charges.
- Challenging the evidence. Did you take a Breathalyzer test to determine whether you were intoxicated at the time of the incident? Did the arresting officer have proper training in how to use the Breathalyzer? In some cases, you can prove that the officers did not collect proper evidence concerning your DUI charge, which can help reduce the charges against you and prevent you from suffering the associated penalties.
- Looking back on previous convictions. Do you face felony DUI charges due to excessive DUIs over the course of the last 10 years? If so, your lawyer may help you review those previous convictions. Did you have a lawyer? Did you simply plead guilty, or did you fight the charges? There may be reasons why the state or a court should not count those previous DUIs against you, which may help convince to charge your DUI as a misdemeanor instead of a felony.
- Aiming for reduced penalties. In some cases, the state may not know for certain that they can convict you of a felony DUI. In other cases, mitigating factors may influence the length of a sentence that a court imposes.
Do You Need a Felony DUI Lawyer?
If you face felony DUI charges, don’t wait to get the legal help you need. Working with a lawyer experienced in felony DUI can offer a number of important benefits.
- A lawyer can help reduce the charges against you. A lawyer can help craft successful arguments for why the state should not charge you with a felony, but should instead opt to charge you with a misdemeanor. This may include helping to negotiate a plea agreement, or pointing out evidence to the state that makes your case ineligible to be charged as a felony.
- A lawyer can help prove your innocence. Just because the state charges you with a felony DUI doesn’t mean you’re guilty of it. You are presumed innocent. A lawyer can build a case for why the government cannot prove you committed a felony beyond a reasonable doubt.
- A lawyer can help lessen the impact of the sentence for a felony DUI. If you plead guilty or are found guilty by a jury of your peers, a lawyer can help you argue to the court why you should receive a lenient sentence, and can negotiate with the state about what sentence it will recommend.
- A lawyer can protect your legal rights. In some cases, the state or the court make legal errors. A lawyer can help you show those errors entitle you to legal relief from your felony charge.
Fight Your Atlanta Felony DUI Charge With Help From Schnipper Law, P.C.
Are you facing a felony DUI charge in Atlanta? If so, then contact Schnipper Law, P.C., today online, or call (404) 545-5845 to schedule a free evaluation of your case. We help Atlantans protect their legal rights and constitutional freedoms when the state charges felony DUI.