Orange County Felony DUI Lawyer

Orange County Felony DUI Lawyer

Orange County Felony DUI Defense Lawyer

If you are found driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, you can incur serious penalties in Orange County, California. If there are aggravating factors present in your case, like a high blood alcohol content (BAC), a previous DUI on your record, or an injured or killed victim, you could see a felony. If you are facing a felony charge in Orange County, you should contact an Orange County felony DUI lawyer as soon as possible. Your attorney can fight for your rights and help to minimize your sentence.

Christopher J. McCann is an experienced, dedicated criminal defense lawyer who stands up for Californians who have been charged with driving under the influence. He is fluent in the legal rules and regulations surrounding DUIs in California and is always working on creative solutions to help his clients. If you are seeking personalized support for a DUI felony charge, Christopher J. McCann is here to help.

Orange County Felony DUI Lawyer

What Is a DUI?

The acronym DUI stands for driving under the influence. It refers to operating a vehicle under the influence of alcohol, drugs, or anything else that impairs your mental clarity. In California, if you are above the age of 21, you can be charged with driving under the influence (DUI) for operating a vehicle with a blood alcohol content (BAC) of 0.08% or higher. However, you can still be arrested for a DUI with a lower BAC if you’re exhibiting signs of sufficient impairment.

If you are under the age of 21, it is illegal for you to distribute, purchase, or consume alcohol. As a result, if you are found to be operating a vehicle with any alcohol or drugs in your system at all, it is against the law.

If you are charged with a DUI in Orange County, CA, you will be facing either a misdemeanor or a felony charge. Felonies result in much more severe consequences than misdemeanors, which are considered minor in comparison. Whether you are charged with a misdemeanor or a felony will depend on several factors that are unique to your situation.

For example, a DUI is usually a misdemeanor if it is your first offense and you had no children in the car, did not hurt or kill anyone, and did not act recklessly or aggressively. If you are charged with a misdemeanor DUI, your punishment will usually be three to five years of probation and up to $1,000 in fines. You might also have to use an ignition interlock device to measure the alcohol on your breath before you operate your vehicle.

What to Do After Being Arrested for a DUI

If you are arrested for a DUI, it can be a terrifying experience. You might be tempted to stand up for yourself and speak to others about your case, but try to resist that urge. It is important that you consider the following steps in order to proceed cautiously with your case.

  • Stay Calm: Being arrested can aggravate you and increase your stress levels. If you act in a combative way toward law enforcement officers or resist arrest, you can cause irreparable harm and potentially worsen your penalties. Therefore, it is vital that you attempt to remain calm and listen to the orders that law enforcement officers give you.
    Doing so will prevent charges of resisting arrest and may reflect well on your character, which your criminal defense attorney could use to your advantage when negotiating on your behalf.
  • Take Note of Officer Conduct: While you should not aggravate the law enforcement officers who are arresting you, it might help you to document their behavior. For instance, if you suspect the field sobriety tests were administered incorrectly or that the law enforcement officers are not respecting your constitutional rights, you should make a mental note of this.
    Later, when you consult with a criminal defense lawyer about your case, you should let them know about what you saw, as they might be able to secure evidence of this conduct that works in your favor.
  • Take Note of Important Details: In addition to officer conduct, you should take note of other relevant details so you and your lawyer will know if anything is presented incorrectly. For instance, you should make sure you understand why you were stopped.
    Make sure to note other important details, too, like if there were issues with your car or related equipment, such as nearby stoplights. Instead of bringing such information up with the law enforcement officers arresting you, you should bring this up when you consult with your criminal defense attorney.
  • Do Not Speak About Your Case: If you are arrested for a DUI, you might be inclined to stand up for yourself and speak to the law enforcement officers around you. However, this is not in your interest, as you might say things that hurt your case. In particular, if you are in an impaired state of mind from drugs or alcohol, you could say things that incriminate you or increase your charges.
  • Do Not Post on Social Media: Similar to speaking about the case, posting anything on your social media about what happened can work against you. For instance, if you speak on your social media about what the law enforcement officers did wrong, this could cause problems later when your lawyer works to defend you and present evidence about what happened. Remaining quiet is the most effective way to fight for a positive outcome.
  • Contact an Experienced Criminal Defense Attorney: You should not waste time in getting in touch with a qualified criminal defense lawyer. The more time you give your attorney to review your case and create an effective legal strategy, the better your chances of securing a positive outcome.
    You should hire a lawyer who is knowledgeable about California law and who has a proven track record of success defending people charged with similar crimes.
  • Follow Your Criminal Defense Lawyer’s Advice: Your criminal defense attorney should be experienced in this field and know the ideal course of action for you to follow. Even if you initially disagree with their preferred course of action, you should consult with them about your concerns and consider their extensive knowledge and experience in DUI law.

How Long Does a DUI Remain on Your Record in California?

If you live in California and get arrested and convicted of a DUI, it will stay on your driving record for ten years. This decade starts from the day that you were arrested. However, the conviction may remain on your criminal record for the foreseeable future if it is not expunged.

If you are worried about having a DUI on your record, are curious about whether or not your DUI can be expunged, or want legal support in the wake of an arrest for a DUI, you should get in contact with an experienced criminal defense lawyer today. Your lawyer might be able to petition the California court to expunge your record of conviction.

Having any criminal offenses on your record can have a significant impact on your life. If you have a DUI on your record, especially a felony conviction, you could face serious obstacles to moving on with your life.

For instance, you could struggle to find employment, as employers typically run background checks on new employees and might not trust a potential new hire with a felony on their criminal record. It is also possible for professional license boards, like those in the medical field, to reevaluate how fit you are to practice. Higher education institutions may also reconsider any acceptances or forms of support.

How Can a DUI Felony Conviction Impact Your Life?

If you are facing a felony DUI charge, you should consider how this could impact all areas of your life. Not only will it be a stain on your criminal record; it can have far-reaching implications for your future. For instance, your felony DUI conviction can impact:

  • Your Relationships: From the moment you are arrested for your DUI, you may enter a stressful period of fighting against a serious criminal charge. This can take a toll on both your personal and professional relationships, as people could view you in a different light after you are accused of criminal behavior.
    In addition, if you have to go to prison for an extended period of time, you will miss out on valuable time with your loved ones, and it might be difficult to readjust when you return.
  • Your Finances: Standing up to a DUI felony charge is an expensive task. From the legal fees you pay for an effective criminal defense lawyer to potential fines and restitution, this charge can have a severe impact on your finances. This could, in turn, add further strain to personal relationships.
  • Your Educational Opportunities: If you are attending a secondary school or any post-secondary institution, a DUI charge could put an obstacle on the path to achieving your educational goals.
  • Your Ability to Travel: Depending on where you are trying to travel, you might face restrictions on entry as a result of having a DUI offense on your record. This is the case for both domestic travel within the United States as well as international travel.
  • Your Immigration Status: If you are not a United States citizen and are facing a DUI charge, your immigration status could be affected. You could be facing the possibility of deportation or having your naturalization denied. If you are concerned about any of these possibilities, you should reach out to a lawyer to consider your options.
  • Your Professional Life: Depending on the type of charge and what your job is, you might face consequences at work as a result of a criminal conviction. You might also be denied jobs in the future with a DUI on your record or have trouble being hired after serving time in prison for a felony DUI. While it’s technically illegal for employers to discriminate against those with a criminal record, it still happens.

What Is a Felony DUI in Orange County, CA?

In Orange County, CA, the court typically treats DUI cases as wobblers. This means that they teeter between being considered misdemeanors or felonies depending on certain factors. For instance, if you have several DUIs already on your criminal record, your DUI charge might be considered a felony when it would have otherwise been considered a misdemeanor.

While the specific contextual factors at hand play a significant role in whether or not you are charged with a felony DUI, there are several factors that would typically make your case a felony in the eyes of the Orange County court. These include:

  • If you caused serious bodily harm to another person
  • If you cause another person’s death, otherwise known as vehicular manslaughter
  • If you have at least two DUI convictions on your criminal record
  • If you have previous DUI felony convictions on your criminal record
  • If you engaged in reckless driving, such as speeding
  • If you had a minor in your vehicle while driving under the influence
  • If you were acting in a combative manner with the law enforcement officers who pulled you over

If any of the above factors were involved in your DUI case, you should not waste time getting in touch with a criminal defense attorney. All of these factors can make for severe penalties that take a significant toll on your life.

What Are the Penalties for a Felony DUI in Orange County, CA?

Orange County takes felony DUIs extremely seriously. The penalties that you could face for each type of felony will vary, but all are severe. For instance, the following consequences correspond with the following convictions.

Felony DUI With Previous Record

If you have four or more DUI convictions in a ten-year period, you can expect to face harsh punishments. For instance, you could face anywhere between sixteen months and three years in state prison and pay up to $1,000 in fines. You might also face three to five years of probation and designation as a convicted felon. If one or more of your DUIs resulted in serious harm to another person, you can expect to face higher fines and more time in prison.

If you have had previous DUI convictions, you will also typically have to install an Ignition Interlock Device (IID) in your car. The amount of time for which you will have to do this will depend on your previous record. The more past convictions you have, the more time you will need to use this device.

To use an IID, you have to install it on your car’s dashboard and use it like you would a breathalyzer test. In order to drive your vehicle, you need to provide a breath sample that is free of any alcohol. This device thus ensures that you are not able to get behind the wheel while under the influence of mind-altering substances.

DUI With Injury

If you hurt another person while driving under the influence and are facing your first DUI offense, you can expect to face between sixteen months and sixteen years in state prison, depending on the severity of the harm you caused. You can also expect to pay fines of between $1,015 and $5,000 and have your driver’s license suspended for one year.

You might also have to participate in an alcohol or drug program and pay restitution to the person or people who were injured as a result of your actions. If you are charged with a DUI with injury and have previous DUI convictions or one or more felony DUI convictions, you can expect similar but harsher punishments.

Vehicular Manslaughter While Intoxicated

Manslaughter is an aggravating factor and additional charge in certain DUI cases. The punishments for killing a person while driving vary based on the factors involved. If you are found guilty of causing someone else’s death while driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, your punishments will usually be harsher than if you were sober.

For example, if it was your first offense, you could face between four and ten years in California state prison and have to pay up to $10,000 in fines. If you have prior convictions and are found guilty of vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated, you could face fifteen years to life in prison.

There are two different charges you might receive in this situation: vehicular manslaughter or gross vehicular manslaughter. The latter refers to gross negligence that led to someone’s death and will usually result in harsher penalties. For instance, imagine you cause a death while driving after drinking, speeding recklessly, and going the wrong way down a one-way street with high pedestrian traffic. In this scenario, you will likely be charged with gross vehicular manslaughter.

Imagine you are driving under the influence of alcohol and run a red light. As a result, your car collides with another vehicle, and someone in the other car dies. In this scenario, you’ll likely be charged with vehicular manslaughter because it includes a much milder level of recklessness than the first.

Regardless of whether you are charged with vehicular manslaughter or gross vehicular manslaughter, both are serious offenses that can result in life-changing punishments. You will need to consult with a lawyer in detail about your case in order to craft a strong defense or negotiate a lighter sentence.

Underage DUI

California’s no-tolerance laws are strict on underage drinking and driving. Drivers under 21 can face license suspensions of one year for driving with a BAC of just 0.01%.

If you are under the age of 21 and are found operating a vehicle intoxicated with a BAC of 0.05% or more, you could be arrested for an underage DUI and have your driver’s license suspended. Penalties for an underage DUI could include a fine of $100, a one-year license suspension, and a mandatory DUI course. You’ll also be left with a criminal charge on your record.

Underage drivers with BACs higher than 0.08% are treated no differently than those over 21. If your actions resulted in injury or death to another person or if you have prior convictions or multiple DUIs on your record, you could still be facing a felony as a minor.

Your consequences can include jail time, fines, having your driver’s license suspended, and more, depending on the factors involved in your case. If you or someone you love is facing an underage DUI charge, you should reach out to a criminal defense attorney with experience in such cases for guidance.

What Is the Three-Strikes Rule In California?

You might have heard of California’s three-strikes rule. This means that if you have two serious felony convictions on your record and are then found guilty of another serious or violent criminal offense, your sentence will be doubled. For instance, if you have been convicted of two previous felony DUIs and are then charged with vehicular manslaughter, your sentence will be double that of someone with no previous record.

If you are facing a DUI felony charge and are worried about the three-strikes rule, do not hesitate to reach out to a California criminal defense attorney who can review your situation and determine your legal options.

How Can a DUI Attorney Help You?

If you are facing a DUI felony charge in Orange County, you’re likely feeling scared for your future. While a felony charge is serious, there are several defenses that your criminal defense lawyer might be able to use to advocate for you. For example, in some cases, your prescription medication might interfere with your BAC. It’s also possible that your constitutional rights might have been violated during your arrest, which could invalidate the case against you.

Even if you plead guilty, your lawyer can still play a vital role in minimizing your sentence and, therefore, brightening your future. Your criminal defense attorney should be trained and experienced in negotiation and can fight to negotiate a lighter sentence based on a host of evidence, such as your previous criminal record, proof of your commitment to getting help, statements about your good character, and more.

It is also critical to hire a skilled criminal defense attorney after a felony DUI charge so that you have a capable legal professional guiding you through Orange County’s complicated legal system. Your lawyer may know what evidence could help your case, how to craft a sound argument in your favor, and more. Depending on your sentencing, your lawyer might be able to appeal the outcome.

For instance, if legal errors were made or new evidence arises, your attorney might be able to file an appeal to prompt the court to reexamine your case and change the outcome. Without a competent, knowledgeable lawyer in your corner, you might struggle to exercise all your possible legal options for an optimal outcome.

How DUI Lawyers Can Defend Drunk Driving in Orange County?

While it can be difficult to craft a defense for drunk driving, there are many scenarios in which your criminal defense lawyer could gather relevant evidence to craft a strong argument on your behalf. For instance, your lawyer could consider all of the following evidence in your defense:

Inaccuracies in Your Breathalyzer Test

One of the main pieces of evidence that helps convict you of a DUI is your breathalyzer test. However, if there were problems with how the law enforcement officer administered the test, you might have been wrongfully charged. There is also a margin of error for such tests, which can result in inaccurate charges.

Your lawyer might also discover and point out that other factors resulted in false positive results, such as medical conditions, temperature, and breathing patterns. If evidence from the breathalyzer test is ruled inadmissible in court, your DUI charges could be dropped.

Inaccuracies in Your Field Sobriety Tests

The law enforcement officer who pulled you over might have conducted a field sobriety test to test your level of intoxication. While these tests can be effective, it’s also possible for certain factors to cause a false positive.

For instance, environmental factors like uneven terrain and poor lighting can make these tests difficult for some people, as can physical conditions such as injuries or disabilities. If conditions like these resulted in your arrest, it’s possible for your charges to be dropped.

Witness Statements

Depending on the factors involved in your case, statements from witnesses who were around at the time might be able to support your defense attorney’s argument. For instance, your lawyer might draw on a witness statement to help prove that there was no justifiable cause to stop you on the road, to help prove that field sobriety tests were administered incorrectly, or to help prove your alibi or other explanations for your behavior.

No Probable Cause

If the law enforcement officer who pulled you over had no probable cause to stop you, your criminal defense attorney might be able to use this to your benefit. Your lawyer can review the facts of your case to determine if there was probable cause.

How Much Do DUI Attorneys Cost in California?

Cost will likely be a factor to consider when hiring a criminal defense lawyer for your DUI felony charge in Orange County. The amount that each lawyer will charge will vary based on several different things, so it is useful to schedule a consultation with a DUI attorney before you make your decision. A defense lawyer’s costs may depend on their level of experience, location, and more.

Your lawyer should be upfront about costs before they begin working on your case. Some criminal defense attorneys charge by the hour, while others charge flat fees. The more time and resources that your attorney has to put into your case, the more expensive the final costs of your legal services will likely be. However, if you have a serious felony case that requires a strong legal defense, it could be worth investing in the legal fees now rather than seeing harsh penalties as a result of a subpar defense.

What Is the Statute of Limitations for a Felony DUI in California?

Like many other crimes, DUI felonies have a statute of limitations. This means there is a limited amount of time in which a felony DUI charge can be filed. In California, the statute of limitations for a felony DUI is three years. This means that if a prosecutor fails to file your charges within this time frame, they will not be able to do so in the future.

While unlikely, it might take this long to gather evidence, interview witnesses, and follow other relevant procedures. If you have questions about the statute of limitations and how it may impact your case, you should get in touch with your criminal defense attorney so they can consider this in the context of your case.

Contact a Dedicated Orange County Felony DUI Lawyer

If you are facing a felony DUI charge, you should be aware of the severity of your situation. Your future could be at risk, as you may have to spend years in prison, pay costly fines detrimental to your finances, and see a ten-year stain on your driving record.

You could also see far-reaching impacts on your immigration status, travel abilities, and personal and professional relationships. Time is not on your side if you have been arrested for a felony DUI. It’s in your interest to contact a criminal defense lawyer today.

If you are in search of a qualified criminal defense attorney who is experienced in felony DUI cases, Christopher J. McCann can help. With fifteen years of experience in criminal defense, he holds the intricate knowledge needed for navigating a complex felony DUI case.

With a proven track record of success and personalized support for his clients, you can find peace of mind in the services of Christopher J. McCann. If you are interested in a consultation for your felony DUI case, contact the Law Offices of Christopher J. McCann, APC, as soon as you can.


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