Being arrested for a DUI incident in Fletcher, NC is no walk in the park. The state legislature is complex and particularly tough where DUI arrests are concerned. Even a minor charge can result in massive fines and jail time. More severe felony charges can include time spent in prison. And then there are lasting effects on your reputation, your rental possibilities, and your career prospects.
One of the biggest mistakes that you can make is pleading guilty without the consultation of a Fletcher felony DUI defense lawyer. At Doug Edwards Law, our defense attorneys specialize in cases that involve DUI charges. We have an in-depth understanding of local and federal law, what it takes to prosecute a case, and how to best defend our clients.
Felony charges are serious criminal offenses and receive a harsher punishment than most DUI misdemeanors. Most felonies have a prison sentence of at least one year. The most common felonies committed in the United States are drug-related felonies. Habitual DUI charges are a very common type of DUI felony but they are not the only ones.
The best defense against these types of charges begins at the time you are stopped by the police. If you find yourself in this scenario, then you should be very careful with what information you willingly provide. We recommend calling our law firm before answering any questions. You should not discuss your drinking with the officers and you should refuse a sobriety test.
You should never submit to a breathalyzer or field sobriety test if there is even the slightest chance you could fail. You have a right to refuse these tests during a stop and doing so has its benefits. If you are still arrested and charged, then contacting a Fletcher felony DUI defense lawyer should be your top priority. There are many issues that can affect the outcome of a DUI case and it’s our job to make those issues known to you.
A DWI by itself is almost always a misdemeanor unless habitual violations were involved. However, the circumstances of the case, such as what occurred while you were under the influence, can make all of the difference. Driving while intoxicated may be a misdemeanor, but if you cause serious injury or death during that time, then it could be upgraded to a more serious felony charge.
Even a minor DUI felony can result in several years in prison. In most cases, it will also result in your driving license being permanently revoked. This is obviously an outcome that you want to avoid and we want to help you avoid it. Once we understand your case, your story, and the circumstances of the incident, then we can identify the appropriate defense for your felony DUI charge.
There are many potential defense options that can apply to felony DUI charges. A common example is the lack of reasonable suspicion to stop the driver or probable cause to perform the arrest. If you did not fail a sobriety test and there was no indication of a crime, then the officer had no probable cause to make the arrest and the charges are not valid.
Sometimes even a failed sobriety test is not enough to secure a DUI conviction. Some officers fail to calibrate their breathalyzers and the results are not valid. Even blood tests can come back with false results that cannot be used to justify a conviction. We investigate all of these avenues when helping a client who has been charged with a felony DWI.
If you’ve received multiple DWI charges recently, then you’re looking at a more serious felony charge. A habitual DWI felony in North Carolina happens when an individual receives three or more DWI charges within the period of 10 years. This repeat offense escalates a simple misdemeanor charge to a felony with mandatory prison time.
Habitual violations are not the most serious felony charges you could face but they are still significantly damaging. They are classified as a Class F felony and include certain mandatory punishments. In Fletcher, a habitual DWI felony charge will include:
The state will need to prove several factors if they want to convict you of habitual DWI charges. They need to prove that you were the one driving, you were under the influence, that you were driving on a public highway and not private property, and that you have had at least 3 DWI charges in the past decade. If we can show that any one of these factors is not true then you can avoid a serious felony.
It is very likely that you will also lose your vehicle if the prosecution is successful. The car will be seized by the state and may be auctioned at a later date. That’s one more large expense you may be able to avoid with the help of a professional Fletcher felony DUI defense lawyer.
A habitual DWI charge is a big deal, but there are other felony charges you could encounter even on your first DWI charge. These other charges depend on what happened while operating a vehicle under the influence. Some of these felonies could lead to more than 10 years in prison and ongoing fines that last the rest of your life.
One of the most serious charges you could face is felony death by vehicle. Death by vehicle occurs when you are the cause of an accident that causes the death of someone else. It is possible for a death by vehicle charge to be classified as a misdemeanor in North Carolina. The classification depends on what caused the accident. If it is caused by driving while intoxicated, then it will be classified as a felony.
Proving a felony death by vehicle claim requires several factors. It must be shown that you were intoxicated, driving on a public road, and are responsible for the accident that caused the death. You may initially get charged, but if the prosecution cannot prove these facts, then you have a solid defense.
Felony Death by Vehicle is classified as a Class D felony. It is one of the most common Class D felonies committed, alongside Larceny, involuntary manslaughter, and resisting arrest. A class D felony is considered relatively minor to other categories but it still carries a hefty punishment.
In North Carolina, the Class D felony death by vehicle carries a prison sentence of at least 38 months and no more than 160 months. It also carries massive fines that will be determined by a judge. In most cases, your license will be revoked for a period of at least 4 years.
There’s a very large difference between the minimum and maximum imprisonment time for felony death by vehicle. If the conviction cannot be avoided altogether, then the job of your defense attorney is to fight for the shortest possible punishment. The sentencing time will depend on certain factors of the accident, the behavior of the driver, and their previous criminal record.
It is also possible to fight to have a felony death by vehicle charge reduced to a misdemeanor. A death by vehicle that occurs because of a minor infraction, such as speeding or texting, is classified as an A1 misdemeanor with a much more lenient punishment. A misdemeanor death by vehicle conviction in North Carolina can lead to an imprisonment period of 150 days and big fines.
The DUI element is what separates the felony charge from the misdemeanor. If it can be shown that you were not intoxicated at the time or that the testing methods were invalid, then it can be removed from the charge. Lowering a 160-month imprisonment period to 150 days will severely minimize its impact on your life. Of course, the ideal outcome is to avoid any conviction altogether.
Another minor felony that could cost you big is felony serious injury by vehicle. If you are in an accident that causes serious harm to someone else, then you may be charged with serious injury by vehicle. As with death by vehicle, the inclusion of driving while intoxicated elevates this misdemeanor to a more serious felony charge.
Causing a serious injury by vehicle while under the influence is considered a Class F felony. This is the same class as a habitual DWI charge and is less severe than a class D death by vehicle. If the injury was caused intentionally, then it escalates to a Class B vehicular assault felony.
While it may be classified the same as a habitual DWI charge, there is a much higher maximum term of imprisonment. This felony charge can result in 59 months behind bars in severe cases. It also includes expensive fines and a license revocation that can last four years.
This type of charge is similar to felony death by vehicle but with harsher punishment. If you are charged with felony death by vehicle and have already been convicted of a DWI crime in the last seven years, then it will be promoted to aggravated felony death by vehicle charge. The imprisonment period for this charge is between 64 and 160 months.
If you are charged with felony serious injury by vehicle and have received a DUI conviction in the past seven years, then it becomes an aggravated felony charge. These charges will lead to at least two years imprisonment and a lifetime of fines.
Don’t make the mistake of admitting to a felony DUI charge before you’ve had time to speak to a lawyer. Our team of former prosecutors and experienced staff can help fight your case. There are many different reasons why a serious DUI charge may be incorrect, unsupported, or exaggerated. Let an expert felony DUI lawyer from Doug Edwards Law review your case and find you a solid foundation for your defense.