There are two ways in which a DUI or drunk/impaired driving charge can be elevated to a felony offense. They both deal with the frequency of an individual’s convictions. The time between convictions and the number of charges a person has determine the severity of their DUI charge.
To help defend against any potential penalties that may result from this type of charge, it is imperative to consult with a DUI attorney as soon as possible. A knowledgeable West Palm Beach felony DUI lawyer could build a defense to help lessen any potential consequences.
How Does Elevation to a Felony Happen?
The first way an individual can receive a felony DUI charge is if they receive three offenses, with the last offense occurring within 10 years of a prior offense. That third offense is then eligible to be elevated to a felony offense. Officers would use an individual’s conviction records to determine this. The person’s driver’s license would then suffer harsh penalties, such as a permanent revocation. Any out-of-state convictions would have to be proven in Court.
The other way a DUI can be elevated to a felony offense is if it is a person’s fourth lifetime offense, regardless of how spread apart their three previous convictions were. A fourth drunk driving offense is considered a felony punishable by up to five years, as long as no one was injured or hurt in any accident. A DUI causing serious bodily injury or death is a felony offense regardless of if there are any prior offenses or not. No matter the charge, an individual can defend against a felony DUI offense with the assistance of a West Palm Beach attorney.
Hearings for a Felony Drunk Driving Offense
The big differences between a felony DUI and a misdemeanor is that in a felony drunk driving case, in addition to proving the crime, the person’s prior record must be proven beyond a reasonable doubt as well.
A felony is heard in a different courtroom and is held in the Circuit court, which is a higher authority than a misdemeanor. Misdemeanors are held in a County court. The Circuit court is where the more serious crimes are dealt with. A fourth felony DUI will be treated more seriously than a misdemeanor, but as far as the process goes, the same rules of evidence apply. The elements of the crime that must be proven are the same. In preparing a defense for a felony drunk driving charge, a knowledgeable West Palm Beach lawyer is looking to see whether or not there are any prior offenses. If there were, an attorney may determine where they occurred and whether or not they can be proven.
Proving a Prior DUI Offense
Prior offenses that occurred in Florida are easier for the government to prove than out-of-state convictions. This is because different states have different methods of keeping records. It is more difficult for the state of Florida to find out-of-state convictions and then produce proof of those convictions.
A lawyer will want to ascertain from their client if they have any prior DUIs, and if so, where and how many. A lawyer could then determine whether or not it will be easier or harder for the government to find them. The answers that the client gives an attorney is confidential.
A seasoned felony DUI attorney in West Palm Beach should disclose to their clients that they can only protect them from what they know about, but not from what they do not know about. With the right knowledge, a lawyer could help to ensure protection on behalf of their client. You need to tell your lawyer if you have any prior DUI arrests and/or convictions.
Contact a West Palm Beach Felony DUI Attorney
If you have multiple drunk driving offenses on your criminal record, you should reach out to a West Palm Beach felony DUI lawyer. Our team at Leifert & Leifert could help you prepare for the legal process and protect your freedom. Law enforcement, Prosecutors and the Courts take felony cases of drinking and driving very seriously, so it is important to have a skilled and aggressive defense attorney by your side throughout this process. For more information about how we could help you, call today.