Any DUI case first must be analyzed by a competent DUI experienced attorney. Every element of the DUI statute must be reviewed. Once you have the facts of the case and all of the elements the state intends to use against you, then your defense can be asserted. Unfortunately just because it is a first time DUI the state will not be very lenient due to the injury allegation. Obviously, that is an essential element of the charge. If the states evidence is weak on the "serious bodily injury" element you can make a forceful argument for a 1st DUI with only the statutory minimums. The case requires many other issues be reviewed because you could also argue against the DUI altogether. Obviously, the facts are crucial to a proper analysis. The level of injury will also determine if you are a jail case if all other elements can be proven.
It's certainly possible, but the real question is whether it is likely to happen. That is a difficult question to answer without knowing the facts and seeing the state's evidence. Serious bodily injury is obviously quite serious and the nature of the crime already gets you several points on the felony scoresheet. Depending on the strength of the state's case, a lawyer may be able to reduce that charge to a misdemeanor. or even have you receive a youthful offender on the felony depending on numerous facts. The prosecutor's main obligation, though, is to the people of the State of Florida and somewhat to the victim. Victims of crimes have rights under Florida's constitution, so you can rest assured that the prosecutor will be talking to the victim to see how they want to handle the case. You really should get a lawyer if you don't have one already for this.
First, only the state can reduce your charge to a misdemeanor. However, should the state not be able to prove the injury is serious, either the judge or a jury could acquit you of that portion of the charge. Not all injuries that you might think to be serious would be serious enough to convict you of a felony. For instance, a Florida court has held that two fractured ankles is not a serious bodily injury under the DUI statute. Additionally, the state has to prove that you caused the serious bodily injury, so if you were impaired, but the accident was completely the other person's fault, then you might be able to beat the felony charge as well. Lawyers call this a "causation" argument i.e. you did not cause the injuries. Last, the state will still need to prove you were impaired.
You definitely need to consult with a lawyer who understands all of these issues to help you navigate through this difficult case because, depending on the severity of the injuries, you are facing some time in state prison. The State Attorney's Office is unlikely to reduce a serious bodily injury case without a lawyer who is experienced and known for trying cases to convince them they are unlikely to get a conviction. I would expect an uphill battle on this case. You need to bring some big guns with you to the courtroom.
Depending on the circumstances of your DUI with serious bodily injury it is possible to have it reduced to a misdemeanor. There are multiple circumstances that might warrant a reduction, and the best way to find out is to consult with an experienced DUI attorney. Most criminal defense attorneys will provide a free initial consultation where they can review the specific facts of your case with you. In the event that your charge remains a DUI with serious bodily injury there is the possibility that you may go to prison, however, there are many reasons that may persuade the prosecutor or the court to allow a non-prison sanction even if your guidelines call for prison. Again, if you have not already retained counsel, you should take the time to meet with an experienced criminal defense attorney to evaluate your individual options.
I am not a FL attorney. However, anything is possible at least here in CA. You should have a competent DUI lawyer in your area review your case. Good Luck!
Although a DUI with Serious Bodily Injury is a third-degree felony in Florida, and can bring a maximum five years in prison, jail time typically only occurs if you go to trial and lose. However, if you plead, "no contest," other circumstances come in to play which affect whether or not a judge will impose jail time. These factors include the victim's attitude towards your punishment, the need for financial restitution, your level of remorse, your criminal history, your attitude towards substance abuse treatment, and the reasonableness of the state's attorney's office in your jurisdiction. Typically, the only way to have your felony charge reduced to a misdemeanor is if the state's attorney's office has problems in putting together it's case against you. Specifically, they cannot establish you as the driver of the car or a key witness is unavailable to testify against you. Otherwise, it will take an experienced and knowledgeable DUI practitioner to break down the state's case.
I agree with the answers provided above. The best way to get the case reduced to a misdemeanor may be to aggressively fight every part of the case by filing a motion to suppress or other motions that can be heard before trial to exclude part of the prosecutor's evidence.
In many of these cases the prosecutor is seeking a long prison sentence because it is warranted by the Florida sentencing score sheet. Even if you do not have any prior arrests, this level 7 felony will add 56 point to the score sheet. The prosecutor may also add another 40 points if the victim's injury is deemed to be "severe" (which is typical in a DUI with serious bodily injury in Florida). Those points alone require a prison sentence of more than four (4) years unless a "downward departure" is obtained.
Visit my website link below for more general information on a Felony DUI for Serious Bodily Injury in Florida.
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