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How Can I Fight a DUI Felony in Orange County? 

How Can I Fight a DUI Felony in Orange County? 

How Can I Fight a DUI Felony in Orange County? 

Most of us know the serious consequences of driving under the influence, both in terms of the injury it can cause and the consequences for drivers who find themselves facing serious charges associated with their actions. However, the justice system is often fraught with nuances, and each individual case will have its own complexities.

As one of Orange County’s leading criminal defense law firms, one question we often hear is, "Is a DUI a felony in California?"

The answer is not as straightforward as you might think, as it depends on the individual case. However, in various scenarios the prosecutor may charge a DUI as a felony. 

If you currently face such charges, consult an experienced DUI defense attorney for qualified legal advice. At Chudnovsky Law, we provide strong representation to those who find themselves under the threat of severe and potentially long-lasting repercussions. Our commitment to excellence works hand in hand with our team’s wealth of experience in this complex area of the law. If you have a legal matter to discuss, don’t hesitate to contact us for a free, confidential consultation.

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Understanding DUI Charges in California

How Can I Fight a DUI Felony in Orange County? 

In California, the charge you receive for a DUI (driving under the influence) depends on a few key factors, such as your past driving record, the circumstances of the incident, and whether it resulted in bodily injury to others. In most first-, second-, and third-offense cases, the state will charge a DUI as a misdemeanor, albeit a serious one with substantial consequences.

However, in some situations, the state will charge a DUI as a felony.

When Is a DUI a Felony in California?

Four primary circumstances can elevate a DUI into a felony in California.

  • Fourth DUI offense: If you had three prior DUI or wet reckless convictions within the past ten years, the state can charge your fourth DUI as a felony. A wet reckless is a reduced charge from a DUI, often negotiated as part of a plea bargain. This reckless driving charge with alcohol involvement carries lesser penalties than a DUI conviction.
  • DUI with injury: If your DUI injures another person, the state can charge it a felony. This applies whether the injured party is a pedestrian, another driver, or even a passenger in your own vehicle.
  • DUI causing death: An intoxicated driver involved in a motor vehicle accident that results in loss of life may face a felony in California. Depending on the circumstances, prosecutors may charge you with vehicular manslaughter, gross vehicular manslaughter, or second-degree murder. 
  • Prior felony DUI: If the state previously convicted you of a felony DUI, it can classify any subsequent DUI charge as a felony, regardless of the circumstances.

What is the difference between a misdemeanor DUI and a felony DUI in California?

A misdemeanor DUI is typically charged for first, second, and third DUI offenses within a ten-year period that does not injure another person. A felony DUI typically involves serious circumstances, such as a fourth DUI offense within ten years, a DUI that results in injury to another person, or any DUI offense following a previous felony DUI conviction.

A felony DUI carries significantly more severe consequences than a misdemeanor DUI. Moreover, a felony conviction on your record can affect future employment opportunities, your ability to obtain certain professional licenses, and even your voting rights.

Penalties for a Felony DUI in Orange County

In California, a felony DUI conviction carries severe penalties that significantly exceed those of a misdemeanor DUI. The specific penalties may vary depending on the circumstances of the case and the defendant's prior criminal record.

However, individuals convicted of a felony DUI can generally expect to face:

  • Incarceration: A felony DUI can result in a state prison sentence of 16 months or two or three years. If your DUI injured another person, the prison sentence can increase to 10 years or more if the accident involved multiple victims or particularly severe injuries.
  • Fines: Convicted individuals can expect to pay fines ranging from $390 to $1,000. However, with the addition of penalty assessments, the actual amount can exceed $3,000.
  • Driver's license suspension: A felony DUI conviction leads to a four-year suspension of your driver's license. Following the suspension, you must install an ignition interlock device (IID) in your vehicle for one to three years.
  • Probation: If granted probation, terms typically include completion of an 18- to 30-month DUI school, abstaining from alcohol use, and not committing any further crimes. Violation of probation terms can result in additional penalties, including imprisonment.
  • Habitual traffic offender status: A felony DUI conviction results in the California DMV designating the individual as a habitual traffic offender for three years.
  • Restitution: If the DUI incident caused injury, the court would order the convicted person to pay restitution to the victims, compensating them for any losses incurred as a result of the incident.

A felony DUI conviction also has long-term consequences that extend beyond the legal penalties. It can harm your employment opportunities, professional licensing, immigration status, and even your personal relationships.

Given these severe potential consequences, have a skilled and experienced DUI attorney on your side if you face felony DUI charges. At Chudnovsky Law, our team provides vigorous defense strategies to protect our clients' rights and mitigate the impact of these charges on their lives.

Felony DUI Consequence for Non-US Citizens

For non-US citizens, including undocumented immigrants, Green Card holders, and foreign nationals, felony charges can carry an additional risk of deportation. Our Orange County immigration defense attorneys understand the intersection of criminal and immigration law. Your attorney can explain the potential consequences of the charges you face and create a defense strategy tailored to your circumstances.

Defending Against a DUI Charge

Whether you face a misdemeanor or felony DUI charge, hire experienced legal representation. Do not take this situation lightly or handle it on your own. A skilled attorney can review your case, identify any potential defenses, and navigate the complex legal process.

At Chudnovsky Law, our team is well-versed in California DUI laws. We thoroughly investigate each case, looking at factors such as the legality of the DUI stop, the accuracy of the breath or blood test, and the procedures followed by law enforcement. Our resources and connections within Orange County allow us to use advanced investigative techniques to gather as much evidence as possible. By leaving no stone unturned, we strive to build the most robust defense possible for our clients.

Frequently Asked Questions About DUI Felonies in California

Can I refuse a breathalyzer or blood test during a DUI stop?

Under California's implied consent law, you must submit to a breath or blood test after a lawful DUI arrest. However, refusal to take the test can result in additional penalties, including a mandatory one-year license suspension for a first-time refusal and a $125 fine.

Will a DUI conviction affect my auto insurance?

A DUI conviction can increase your auto insurance premiums, as insurance companies typically view DUI offenders as high-risk drivers. Additionally, you may need to file an SR-22 form with the DMV to prove you have adequate insurance coverage.

Can a felony DUI charge be reduced to a misdemeanor in California?

Possibly, depending on the circumstances of the case. A skilled attorney can negotiate to reduce a felony DUI charge to a misdemeanor, especially in cases where the prosecutor based the charges on prior DUI convictions or an accident involving minor injuries.

How can a DUI defense attorney help?

The daunting experience of facing a DUI charge, whether a misdemeanor or felony, the complexities of the legal system, and the potential for severe consequences make it crucial to have experienced legal representation on your side.

Whether a misdemeanor or felony, DUIs carry severe penalties. The sheer complexity of the legal system and the high stakes associated with these charges make a DUI defense lawyer a vital asset. These professionals offer an understanding of California's intricate DUI laws, helping you comprehend the charges, potential repercussions, and possible defenses available to you.

Investigation and Strategizing

A competent DUI attorney will conduct a thorough investigation into your case, examining every detail of the arrest, ranging from the legality of the traffic stop to the accuracy of the Breathalyzer or blood test. Through this in-depth investigation, they can construct a robust defense strategy, challenging everything from the validity of the blood alcohol concentration (BAC) tests to the administration of field sobriety tests or the justification for the initial traffic stop.

Exploring Your Options With You

In some cases, you may want to negotiate a plea deal, which your attorney can facilitate. This process might involve agreeing to lesser charges, such as a wet reckless charge, which carries fewer severe penalties than a DUI. Our lawyers are not only strong negotiators but skilled trial attorneys and are thoroughly prepared to advocate for you in court. If necessary, we will represent you in court, present evidence, and argue your case to aim for the best possible outcome.

Support and Guidance

Beyond their legal responsibilities, an attorney can provide much-needed guidance and support during this challenging time. They can clarify your doubts, guide you through the process, and aid you in making informed decisions about your case. 

At Chudnovsky Law, our experienced DUI defense attorneys are committed to championing our clients' rights and working tirelessly to secure the best possible result in each case. If you face DUI charges, you don't have to face them alone.

Regardless of the Charges You’re Facing, We’re Here to Help

While the state does not charge every DUI as a felony in California, the circumstances of the incident and your past driving record can escalate the charges to a felony level. When this happens, you need an attorney who can head off all of the severe and long-lasting consequences of a felony DUI. Having competent legal representation can make a powerful difference in your future months. 

At Chudnovsky Law, we are committed to defending the rights of our clients and working tirelessly to achieve the most favorable outcome in their cases. Whether you face a first-time DUI charge or a felony DUI, we can advocate for you and offer dedicated support during this time. 

Our team successfully worked to reduce or drop charges for countless individuals by employing a multitude of defense strategies. While we cannot guarantee the outcome of your particular case, we can provide you with the assurance that only a powerful legal ally can give.

If you or a loved one faces a DUI charge in Orange County, don't hesitate to contact us at (949) 750-2500 for a free consultation to learn about your legal options and how we can help you take action.

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