Michigan Criminal Attorneys Advocating for Drivers
Certain Michigan DUIs are charged as felonies, rather than misdemeanors. It is important to be aware that felony convictions carry very steep penalties. Whether you are charged with a misdemeanor or a felony, you can be left with a criminal record and non-judicial consequences, such as the loss of certain rights, but prosecutors take felony charges extremely seriously. Many may not be open to negotiating down to a plea deal, but some will, provided that your attorney can present your case effectively. You should discuss your situation with an experienced Michigan felony DUI lawyer. At Michigan Defense Law, we may be able to represent you.
Felony DUI convictions are punished much more harshly than misdemeanors. There are a few different circumstances under which you could face felony charges and the possibility of a significant term of incarceration. Certain rights, such as the right to possess a firearm, are also taken away for conviction of any felony.
In Michigan, if you have two convictions for drunk driving already, the third will be a Class E felony. This means that you could face 1-5 years’ incarceration (with a minimum 30 days of incarceration), a maximum fine of $5,000, 60-180 days of community service, a revoked driver’s license, and forfeiture of your vehicle. The law in Michigan is that any third or subsequent offense in your lifetime is an OWI felony.
If you seriously injure or kill another person while driving drunk, it will also be charged as a felony. When serious injuries are involved in a DUI, a prosecutor will charge you with a felony. The prosecutor will need to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that your drunk driving was the actual cause of someone’s serious injuries. Serious injuries are those that result in an impairment of one of the victim’s bodily functions. For instance, if an accident victim sustains organ damage after you hit her in an intersection while driving drunk, it would likely be considered a serious injury for which you could face felony charges. However, the injury could also be a broken bone or laceration that leaves permanent scarring. These felonies for injury or death carry penalties up to 15 years in prison. In OWI accident situations where there was a death and the negligence involved seemed extreme, such as reckless driving or a very high blood alcohol content it is not unusual for a charge of second-degree murder to occur. This carries a life maximum. You should immediately consult a felony DUI attorney in Michigan in this situation.
Death Caused by DUI
If your drunk driving resulted in someone’s death, you will face these serious felony charges. These may result in a maximum prison sentence of 15 years, a $10,000 fine, vehicle forfeiture, and a revoked driver’s license. You can face even harsher penalties if the victim of the felony DUI accident was an emergency responder. In addition to felony DUI charges, you may also face vehicular manslaughter or another homicide charge. Part of the challenge with felony dui cases is they are subject to the Michigan Sentencing Guidelines. Although advisory, most judges give a lot of weight to these guidelines. They are a scoring system that adds points based upon the Defendant’s prior record, not just for DUI’s, and combines them with points related to this particular offense. A sentencing range is created, and many judges believe in sentencing Defendants according to the guidelines. In cases where a Defendant has a bad prior record or innocent people have been seriously injured or killed the sentencing guidelines are often quite high. It is in these situations that a Defendant must heavily rely upon the experience and knowledge of his defense lawyer to devise a strategy to manage the guidelines and achieve the best possible outcomes. Often, months and years of a client’s life may hinge on how well the plan is executed. OWI felony cases are nothing to take lightly, even if your prior offenses were long ago. The court’s take a cold, hard look at these situations.
An experienced attorney may be able to figure out a strong defense to felony DUI or negotiate a plea deal to have the charges and penalties against you reduced. Defenses could include raising a reasonable doubt about your guilt or raising constitutional or procedural defenses. Often, DUI defenses involve motion practice. We may be able to bring a motion to suppress evidence if your Fourth or Fifth Amendment rights were violated in the course of the DUI. For example, if you were pulled over for a third DUI offense, and the officer did not have a reasonable suspicion that you were under the influence, a Michigan felony DUI attorney can ask the court to suppress all the evidence obtained during the stop. When a substantial amount of evidence is suppressed based on a constitutional violation, a prosecutor may be left with a weak or worthless case. In some cases, it is appropriate to raise problems with laboratory testing. Appropriate protocols should be followed for lab evidence to be admissible. The machines used to test your blood alcohol content need to be properly calibrated for the results to be deemed valid. Every case is unique. We pride ourselves on being able to develop the best possible strategy for each individual case. This is not a cookie cutter business. The best results are achieved by creating a custom plan for our clients. No matter how serious the situation is or how hopeless it may appear there is always something that can be done to help.
Consult a Knowledgeable Michigan Attorney
You should take felony DUI charges against you seriously. You face the possibility of harsh penalties that could haunt you for years into the future. If you are facing felony DUI charges in Michigan, it is imperative to talk to seasoned attorneys. At Michigan Defense Law, our attorneys will look at the facts of your case to determine the strongest available strategy. We represent clients in Oakland, Wayne, Macomb, and Washtenaw Counties. Call us at (248) 451-2200 or use our online form to set up a consultation with a felony DUI lawyer in Michigan.