In California, a DUI charge is typically filed as a misdemeanor. However, a DUI may become a felony if the defendant committed a prior DUI within ten years that resulted in a felony conviction, or if the defendant committed three or more misdemeanor DUI's within ten years, that resulted in convictions. In addition, if the defendant is involved in a traffic collision that causes more than minor injuries to a third party, the DUI may be filed as a felony.
In defending DUI felony charges, it is important to understand that the prosecution has discretion to reduce the charges to misdemeanors by way of plea negotiations if the facts and circumstances justify it. The prosecution will take into account the facts of the instant case, the facts and circumstances of any prior convictions, and efforts made by the defendant towards accepting responsibility and towards committing to sobriety.
Even in circumstances where a defendant pleads guilty to felony DUI charges, the court retains ongoing discretion to reduce the felony to a misdemeanor at a later date after the defendant has performed felony penalties and has remained free of arrest for a period of probation. A motion may be made under Penal Code 17(b) to reduce the felony to a misdemeanor. At the time of a plea to a felony, it is sometimes a good idea to address with the judge the possibility of building into the plea bargain an agreement that the felony may be reduced to a misdemeanor after a period of successfully completing penalties and remaining offense free.
If you have been arrested for and charged with a felony DUI in Los Angeles or Orange County, all is not lost. Please call experienced Los Angeles Felony DUI Lawyers Gold and Witham to represent you in this challenging time.