Florida DUI Felony Offense Lawyer
Driving Under the Influence, or DUI is usually a misdemeanor charge. In some situations, however, a prosecutor could charge you with felony DUI, a far more serious charge involving extended incarceration in a state penitentiary and higher fines, requiring help from an experienced Florida DUI felony offense lawyer.
When you receive a jail sentence for a misdemeanor DUI charge, you can serve your time in a county jail close to your home and family. But when you serve time for a felony conviction, you’ll usually be shipped out to state penitentiary, which can make family visits more difficult. Another inconvenience of a felony conviction is its so-called “collateral consequences,” such as not being able to vote, own a firearm, obtain financial aid for college, or join certain professions.
If you’ve been charged with felony DUI, you may be able to avoid these penalties with the assistance of a skilled Sarasota criminal defense attorney. He or she can review the prosecution’s evidence against you and formulate a defense strategy that will give you the best outcome possible in your situation.
When Can I Face Felony Charges for DUI?
According to chapter 316.193 of the Florida Statutes, a prosecutor may charge you with a third-degree felony when there is evidence that you drove a vehicle while intoxicated, and:
- You have 2 DUI convictions with one of those convictions occurring within the last 10 years
- You have 3 or more prior DUI convictions
- You caused serious bodily injury when you were driving under the influence
You may face charges of a felony in the second degree if you cause the death of a person or an unborn child, and if you leave the scene of the accident, you could face felony of the first-degree charges.
What Penalties Do these Felony Charges Entail?
If you get convicted of a felony in the third degree, your sentence may include:
- Fines between $2,000 and $5,000
- Up to 5 years in state prison, with a mandatory minimum 30 day sentence
- Mandatory 6 month to 2 year placement of a state-approved ignition interlock device in your car at your expense
- 3 year license suspension (for bodily injury DUI), 10 year license suspension (for third DUI), or permanent revocation (for a fourth conviction)
- 90 day vehicle impoundment
- 1 to 5 years of probation with monthly check-ins and mandatory DUI school attendance
The penalties for felony in the second degree, such as DUI manslaughter, are even higher:
- Mandatory minimum imprisonment for 4 years and for up to 15 years
- $10,000 fine
- Permanent license revocation
- Ignition interlock for 2 years
- Up to 15 years of probation
Finally, if you get charged with first degree felony DUI manslaughter for running from the accident scene, you may be sentenced to anywhere up to 30 years in prison.
How a Florida DUI Felony Offense Lawyer Can Help
When you get charged with felony DUI, you should hire the best DUI attorney possible to work on your case. If your future is on the line, you owe it to yourself to get the highest quality legal representation to fight your felony DUI charge. Even if your case seems hopeless, your lawyer may be able to negotiate a guilty plea for misdemeanor DUI—which involves significantly lighter penalties.
The best option, however, is to attempt to defeat your DUI charge by having crucial evidence removed from the prosecutor’s case. Without evidence, the prosecutor can’t build the case against you and your lawyer may then request the court to dismiss the charges. This strategy is possible when the authorities somehow violate your constructional rights, such as when:
- The officer who pulled you over lacked reasonable suspicion to do so
- The arresting officer didn’t have probable cause to believe you were intoxicated, so he didn’t have a legal basis for giving you a breath, urine, or blood test
- The field sobriety, blood, breath or urine test was not administered by the book
Sometimes, suppressing the prosecution’s key evidence isn’t an option. In these cases, an experienced Florida DUI felony offense lawyer can use his or her advocacy and cross-examination skills to show the jury that the evidence against you does not show your guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. Having a good lawyer by your side at your trial can make all the difference.
Attorney Erika Valcarcel’s goal is to aggressively represent the interests of her clients while providing them with clear communication, compassion, and personal attention. Sarasota DUI attorney Erika Valcarcel has handled thousands of misdemeanor and felony cases in Florida and Sarasota criminal courts and can put this experience to work for you. Erika Valcarcel, Criminal Defense Lawyer, P.A. offers free and confidential consultations, so call her today at (941) 363-7900 if you’re facing DUI or other criminal charges in Sarasota.