So, you were arrested and charged with a DUI in Florida. You may be under the impression that you can't be charged with anything more than a misdemeanor, but there are some circumstances when a DUI could constitute a felony.
For example, if you're convicted of a third or subsequent DUI within a 10-year period, you could face a third-degree felony charge. In Florida, this would carry penalties of up to five years in prison and a fine of no more than $5,000.
How can a criminal defense attorney fight a felony DUI charge?
If you were arrested and charged with a DUI, it's crucial that you consult with an experienced Florida DUI attorney as soon as possible. When devising a legal strategy to fight a DUI charge, your attorney will:
- Investigate the reasons why an officer stopped you. If no probable cause was available, you may have a chance to have your charges dismissed.
- Look for clues of faulty breathalyzer test readings. In many cases, these tests either aren't properly administered or done with defective devices. Even if you had a couple of drinks, your free BAC level may have been below 0.08 at the time of your arrest.
- Find out if your Miranda rights were read. Police don't always have to read your Miranda rights when making an arrest, but if they intend to seek more evidence and question you, it is required.
Could a felony DUI get any worse?
Felony DUI charges aren't just the result of being stopped and arrested within a 10-year period. Some felony DUI charges can be more severe and more difficult to fight in court, including:
- A crash involving serious bodily injury: This could result in a third-degree felony charge.
- DUI manslaughter: A DUI-related crash that unintentionally causes the death of another person could result in a second-degree felony, which carries up to 15 years in prison and up to $10,000 in fines. Leaving the scene of a fatal DUI-related crash can result in a first-degree felony charge. This carries up to 30 years in prison and up to $10,000 in fines.
- Vehicular homicide: If your vehicle was used in a reckless or criminal manner and resulted in someone's death in a DUI-related crash, you could face a second-degree felony charge. Leaving the scene of a crash could result in a first-degree felony.
These charges are far more serious and may produce more hard evidence that can be used against you during prosecution. The prolonged consequences of a felony DUI don't stop once you've served your time and paid fines. You could lose your driver's license for as long as 10 years. Having a felony on your record can make finding employment extremely difficult. In addition, you may lose your right to vote, hold public office, and own a gun.
That's why if you're facing a felony DUI charge, don't take a chance with your freedom. Contact the attorneys at Aguilar & Sieron, P.A. today to find out how we can help.