In the most typical case, someone charged with driving under the influence (DUI) is charged with a misdemeanor in the state of Florida. This means that the toughest jail term you may face is up to 12 months in a county jail (along with a monetary fine of up to $1,000). However, there are circumstances that may result in your arrest for and prosecution for a felony DUI (also known as aggravated DUI). If you are confronting a felony DUI charge, you need an experienced defense attorney. Why? Because a felony is a much more serious offense. If you are convicted of a felony, you could be ordered to serve a multi-year prison sentence.
Circumstances Where a DUI Can Escalate to a Felony
Here are some of the most common situations where someone is charged with a felony DUI:
- You have multiple prior DUI convictions (e.g., this is your fourth DUI in less than 10 years)
- You injured or killed someone in a collision
Multiple DUI Convictions
If you are charged with a third DUI within ten years of any prior DUI conviction, the prosecutor assigned to your case has the discretion to escalate your charge to a felony DUI. If this is your fourth DUI charge, you could be charged with a third-degree felony punishable by up to five years in prison, a revocation of your driver’s license and a monetary fine of up to $5000.
Causing Injury or Death
If you were involved in a collision that resulted in another individual sustaining injuries and police suspect alcohol or drugs were a contributing factor, they can charge you with a third-degree felony. If someone passed away in the collision, you could be charged with DUI vehicular manslaughter, which can be either a first or second-degree felony.
Standing Up for Your Rights
Being charged with a felony DUI does not automatically mean you are guilty. In our criminal justice system, you are innocent until proven guilty. The government carries the burden of proving your guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. This is where having an experienced defense attorney is crucial to defending your rights.
The Law Office of Joseph Cerino is dedicated to providing superior legal representation and customer service to individuals throughout the Fort Myers, Florida area, including Lee, Charlotte, Hendry and Glades Counties.