Fullerton Felony DUI Defense Lawyer
Driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol (DUI) is illegal throughout the United States. Each state has unique laws pertaining to DUI offenses, including the penalties for conviction. In California, a DUI can qualify as a misdemeanor or a felony based on the severity of the offense, whether the defendant has a record of past DUI convictions, and whether they injured or killed someone due to DUI. The police use a blood-alcohol concentration (BAC) measurement system to determine if a driver is under the influence of alcohol. Any amount above .08% will result in a DUI charge, and higher amounts can escalate the penalties under California state law.
Felony DUI charges are among the most serious criminal charges one can face and can potentially lead to multiple years in prison along with other penalties. If you or a loved one face felony DUI charges, a Fullerton felony DUI attorney can help you build a defense and mitigate the penalties if conviction occurs.
It is important to remember that not every DUI charge will result in conviction, but state prosecutors tend to pursue convictions very aggressively in felony DUI cases. If you are searching for a Fullerton felony DUI lawyer to represent you, the Law Offices of Christopher J. McCann can provide robust, comprehensive legal counsel through all phases of your criminal case proceedings.
Should You Get a Lawyer for a First DUI?
When you are facing any type of criminal charge, it is always best to hire a criminal defense lawyer to represent you. A first DUI may not seem like a major problem at first, but the reality is that it is possible you may face serious, felony-level charges based on the severity of your DUI offense. In this situation, you need legal counsel you can trust.
It is always advisable to seek legal representation when you face DUI conviction, even if it is “only” a misdemeanor. Conviction of any crime in California can have a dramatic impact on many aspects of your life and influence your life for many years to come. Investing in reliable legal counsel is one of the best things you can do to protect your reputation and your livelihood.
Is It Worth Getting a Lawyer for a DUI?
The cost of legal fees deters many people facing criminal charges from seeking the representation of private criminal defense attorneys. The justice system anticipates this issue by ensuring that every American citizen has the right to legal counsel when accused of a crime. If a suspect cannot afford their own attorney, the court can appoint a public defender free of charge, or the suspect may simply choose a public defender on their own volition if they do not want to pay for an attorney.
While most public defenders are capable attorneys who do their best for their clients, they typically handle multiple cases every day and can devote very little time to any particular case. As a result, your public defender may only be able to devote an hour or two each day to handling your case, resulting in a lower degree of representation than you may have initially expected. By comparison, a private criminal defense firm like the Law Offices of Christopher J. McCann can provide robust, individualized legal counsel.
When you choose the Law Offices of Christopher J. McCann to represent you in a felony DUI case, you can expect our team to thoroughly investigate every facet of your case to provide the most comprehensive representation we can. We can carefully review the police report from your arrest and scrutinize the circumstances of your arrest and your treatment in police custody. If you experienced any violation of your Constitutional rights, or if the police failed to uphold due process while handling your case, we will highlight these violations and pursue the dismissal of your case outright. If this is not an option, we will do everything we can to minimize your penalty.
What Do DUI Lawyers Look for?
When you hire a Fullerton felony DUI attorney to represent you, they should begin your case by carefully reviewing all official documentation related to the case. They should examine the police report, determine the grounds for probable cause the arresting officers cited, and review any physical evidence available. This preliminary review helps your attorney determine whether the police had the right to conduct your arrest in the first place.
When it comes to felony DUI cases, there are multiple circumstances that can result in felony charges. An individual is charged for DUI at the felony level when their intoxicated driving resulted in the death or injury of another person, when they are charged with DUI after a previous felony DUI conviction, or if they have been convicted of DUI three times in the past ten years. Felony charges are much more severe than misdemeanor DUI charges, so it is especially important to have legal counsel you can trust when you are involved in any felony DUI case. An experienced criminal defense attorney will look for justification to have your charges dropped. For example, if the police profiled you or failed to establish probable cause for your arrest, there may be enough evidence to qualify your case for outright dismissal.
Potential Penalties for Felony DUI
The penalties for any DUI can be severe, even a first offense. As a result, if you are facing felony DUI charges in Fullerton, CA, you can expect several penalties, including:
- Substantial fines, including penalty assessments based on the circumstances of your arrest.
- Loss of your driver’s license. The length of the suspension period depends on the severity of your offense and whether you have a record of previous DUI convictions.
- Jail time. Felony DUI conviction could lead to 16 months to three years in prison. California also upholds a Three Strikes Law, so if your felony DUI is your third felony conviction in California and it is severe enough to qualify under the Three Strikes Law, you could face 25 years to life in prison.
- Probation. Your probationary period following conviction for felony DUI in California will span from three to five years.
- Mandatory installation of an ignition interlock device (IID). An IID is an electronic device fitted with a breathalyzer machine that attaches to a vehicle’s ignition. The vehicle will not start unless the driver breathes into the breathalyzer portion of the machine to show they are not under the influence. The system records each use of the device, and if the driver blows any detectable amount of alcohol into the breathalyzer, the data will be recorded.
- Mandatory driver safety program participation. The judge overseeing your case may require you to attend a driver safety course. Your sentence will outline how many course hours you must complete.
- Mandatory participation in the Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) Victim Impact Panel. This program exists to demonstrate to drunk drivers the serious dangers and real-world impacts their actions can have on others.
- Registration as a Habitual Traffic Offender. This can make it difficult for you to qualify for certain jobs.
- Community service. Many judges require convicted defendants to complete many hours of community service, which often includes highway clean-up programs, landscaping, and other services that benefit the community.
- Mandatory substance abuse rehabilitation. If a judge believes that your felony DUI resulted from a substance abuse disorder they may compel you to attend and complete a rehab program before your driving privileges are reinstated. In some cases, a defendant may argue that they should go to rehab instead of jail, and a judge may agree with this assessment under certain conditions.
As you can see, the potential penalties for felony DUI in California can be extensive and continue for many years. An individual convicted of felony DUI will likely experience many personal and professional consequences as unofficial results of their conviction. For example, an individual convicted of a felony could potentially lose their child custody or visitation rights. They may also be restricted from working in various government fields, the healthcare system, or in any positions in the education field. Some people convicted of felonies in California will be barred from qualifying for state welfare programs, travelling without a license, or qualifying for residency in certain areas. It is also common for an individual convicted of felony DUI to lose their professional licenses.
Fighting Felony DUI Charges
If you are faced with felony DUI conviction in Fullerton, CA, it is vital to understand how important it is to fight these charges as vehemently as possible. Every DUI case will involve mitigating and aggravating factors that influence sentencing. Mitigating factors work in the defendant’s favor and lend themselves toward reducing the defendant’s sentence. Aggravating factors do the opposite, compelling the court to increase the defendant’s sentence.
Your Fullerton felony DUI attorney should be able to quickly and accurately assess the mitigating and aggravating factors that exist within your felony DUI case. If you hurt or killed someone due to driving while intoxicated, this major aggravating factor will work against you. As a result, you will also face civil actions from the victim and/or their family members in addition to criminal prosecution by the state.
Your attorney will look for mitigating factors such as:
- Failure of the police to prove that you were operating the vehicle in question at the time of the arrest.
- Failure of the police to establish probable cause before conducting your arrest.
- Inaccurate chemical testing results.
- Mishandling of your chemical test sample by either law enforcement or the lab responsible for testing.
- Failure of law enforcement to obtain a warrant for a collected blood sample
- Failure of law enforcement to prove that the chemical test cited in your case was administered correctly.
If your Fullerton felony DUI attorney can prove any such mitigating factors, you stand a better chance of having your case dismissed or your charges reduced.
Understanding Plea Bargaining
Another advantage of hiring a reliable and experienced Fullerton felony DUI attorney to represent you is the fact that your attorney will have a much better chance of navigating plea bargaining successfully than you would have on your own. Plea bargaining is essentially the settlement negotiation process for criminal cases. The prosecution and the defense meet to discuss the case and, in exchange for the defendant’s guilty plea and swifter legal proceedings, the prosecution agrees to reduced or modified charges. For example, if you are eligible for felony DUI conviction but did not hurt or kill anyone in the incident in question, you may have grounds to plea down to a misdemeanor charge instead. However, the prosecution must be willing to make a deal and you must be willing to enter a guilty plea.
If plea bargaining does not produce results, the case moves to trial. At this point, your attorney will shift focus to attacking the prosecution’s case from multiple angles. A good criminal defense lawyer will cite procedural and Constitutional violations, bring the validity and admissibility of material evidence into question, and cross-examine witnesses called by the prosecution.
What to Expect From Your Attorney
When you are facing felony DUI charges and hire a Fullerton felony DUI attorney to represent you, your legal team should begin handling your case by carefully reviewing the evidence and helping you determine whether any immediate grounds for dismissal exist. If so, your attorney should seek to have your charges dropped as quickly as possible. If you know you made a mistake and law enforcement conducted a lawful arrest for DUI, your legal team should then move to secure the lightest possible sentence, potentially a plea down to misdemeanor charges.
At the Law Offices of Christopher J. McCann, our team believes in providing every client with responsive and compassionate legal counsel through each phase of every case we accept. We understand that facing felony charges can be a terrifying experience due to the consequences of conviction that can follow you for the rest of your life. Rest assured that when you choose our criminal defense attorneys, we will do everything in our power to help you avoid conviction or minimize your sentence.
If you are ready to discuss your legal options with an experienced and compassionate Fullerton felony DUI attorney, contact the Law Offices of Christopher J. McCann today to schedule a consultation and learn how our firm can help you.