A Gradual Escalation or a One-Time Incident
When you are arrested for a DUI in Virginia, it can be charged as either a misdemeanor or a felony. Felony, being the scary word that is, does accurately depict the severity of this charge. Those charged with a felony may be looking at serious jail time with a number of other losses of freedom that persist long after your jail sentence.
How Could I Know if it’s Being Charged as a Felony?
In Virginia, most DUIs are misdemeanors. In fact, the first two DUIs usually are charged this way. However, when an individual collects his or her third DUI, the court system treats this as habitual offending, and punishes it as a felony. Each DUI after the third will also be charged as a felony, each with increasing prison time and harsher consequences, perhaps even losing the ability to obtain a Driver’s License for the rest of your life.
In addition to the number of DUIs, the following factors may turn a misdemeanor DUI into a felony DUI, even if it is an individual’s first offense:
- Great bodily harm
- Severe property damage
- Child endangerment
- Vehicular manslaughter
These are the common DUI charges, wherein an individual is simply pulled over, discovered by a police officer to be over the legal limit, and then the normal process ensues. Penalties for a first or second offense include a relatively short jail sentence, manageable fines, and mandatory classes and programs. At a certain point, the misdemeanor may fall off of your record, and it could be as though the incident never happened.
When an individual’s third DUI is charged as a felony, he or she will face years in prison, fines reaching tens of thousands of dollars, and three or four years without the ability to obtain even a restricted license. If an individual is facing a felony DUI that caused great bodily harm or even death, prison sentences can reach decades, and that individual will then lose the right to vote or international travel. Additionally, this offense will forever be a blemish on any background check.
Let Our Firm Fight These Charges
There is hope in all cases to reduce a felony charge to a misdemeanor or perhaps even have the charge dropped due to lack of evidence. While we cannot promise any particular result, we can assure you that we will devote all of our efforts and resources to your vindication. Contact the Law Offices of Daniel J. Miller today.