A DUI can be a felony offense in Georgia if it is a fourth DUI conviction within ten years, if it involves the possession of cocaine or other felony-controlled substances, or if a person is killed or seriously injured due to impaired driving.
Besides the prison time a person may face, a felony conviction can have many major long-term impacts on that person’s life, including on employment, security clearances, and the view of society. Employers are much less likely to hire someone who has been convicted of a felony DUI than someone who has not, and the social stigma that comes with the conviction can affect the way friends, family, and society may view the person convicted.
Since a felony DUI conviction can make so many negative changes in a person’s life, it is imperative that you contact an Atlanta felony DUI lawyer as soon as possible to help lessen, if not eliminate, the penalties you may be facing. An experienced DUI attorney in Atlanta can guide you through the complicated legal process, and will work to provide you the best defense possible.
The principal difference between a felony DUI case and a misdemeanor DUI case is the amount of punishment which can be given. For a felony DUI case in Georgia, a person may be sentenced up to five years in prison. For a misdemeanor DUI they can only be sentenced to up to 12 months in prison. During the preparation of case in a felony DUI, it is very important that the attorneys investigate the predicate offenses which make it a DUI felony conviction.
For example, if the prosecution is alleging this is a fourth conviction for DUI, therefore making a felony, the felony DUI attorney in Atlanta needs to look at each one of those prior convictions and make sure that each was an appropriate DUI conviction and within the requisite ten-year window. It is extremely important that the defense attorney investigate each of the prior DUIs to confirm whether each meets the criteria to be a felony predicate.
In a felony DUI case, it is absolutely essential that witnesses be interviewed as soon as possible after the arrest, before their memories fade. Also, if there was an accident involved, it is extremely important to have an accident reconstruction expert visit the scene before the police markings or other physical evidence at the accident scene disappear. It is therefore much more important in a felony case than it is in a regular DUI case to get started sooner with the prep work.
Felony cases tend to be more difficult for the defense in Georgia because there are different discovery rules that apply. In contrast, in misdemeanor cases the defense is not required to turn over any evidence to the prosecution. However, in felony cases, the defense must turn over a list of witnesses and copies of any tangible evidence they wish to use during trial. These things must be given to the prosecution no later than ten days prior to trial. Therefore, prior preparation for a felony DUI trial is necessary with the help of an Atlanta felony DUI lawyer.