In Sarasota, if you are charged with a DUI, it is typically a misdemeanor offense. The DUI becomes a felony when the driver has had more than three convictions in the past ten years, bodily injury has occurred, and other factors your DUI defense attorney will outline with you in detail.
The circumstances detailing whether or not a crime is a misdemeanor or a felony is confusing to someone who is not experienced with law and legal issues. In the state of Florida, misdemeanors are considered a lesser offense than a felony. This determination is based upon how severe the charges are against the driver. In the state of Florida, a felony offense is met with a prison term of at least one year. Other felony penalties include:
Even when the DUI is treated as a misdemeanor, it would behoove the offender to hire a criminal defense attorney to ensure all the charges are understood and the best possible defense can be created. While misdemeanor offenses are less severe than a felony offense, the DUI case is still a challenge to handle without proper legal representation. Misdemeanor cases and felony cases are both held at the Sarasota Circuit Court.
Whether or not your DUI is charged as a felony or a misdemeanor is determined based upon several different factors. Because each situation is handled on a case by case basis, there is no specific blueprint that will guarantee the charges will sway one way or another. Here are some examples of what factors could lead to a felony DUI arrest:
Drivers must keep in mind that a felony DUI carries harsher penalties than a misdemeanor. Having a discussion with a defense attorney as soon as possible will not only help relieve stress surrounding the situation, but it will enable the two of you to work together as a team to build a strong case.
When building your defense case, your attorney will scrutinize all the evidence involved in your arrest. They will look at the same key factors the law enforcement officer examined at the time of your traffic stop:
This evidence is gathered in the form of reports, video tapes from dashboard cameras, video tapes from the testing facility, and data analysis from the test results. When this evidence is studied by your attorney, they will be able to determine if:
Charges can be challenged in order to receive a reduction if any of the above criteria is not met. For example, if the law enforcement official did not have probable cause during the traffic stop, then the case can be dismissed. Another example includes if the testing was performed improperly or if, upon refusal of testing, the implied consent law was not read to the driver.