The three strikes law is one of the best known laws in California. Since 1994, individuals in the state who have been convicted of three felonies are given a mandatory sentence that ranges from 25 years to life in prison. The law was amended in 2012 to be slightly more lenient, making only convictions of “serious” or “violent” crimes count as a strike.
While DUIs are typically misdemeanors, a DUI will sometimes register as a strike against a convicted individual. If you are facing a DUI and are concerned that this charge may result in a strike against your record, it is vitally important you contact a skilled DUI lawyer to assess your case. By calling (310) 862-0199, we can help you schedule a free consultation with a leading DUI attorney who can assess the chances you’re facing a strike and help you understand your defense options.
DUI as a Felony
In many cases, DUIs are charged as misdemeanors. California treats these as less serious, but still come with harsh penalties. This may include $1,000 in fines, mandatory DUI school, and time in a local jail. A misdemeanor DUI offense is typically one in which:
- You have two or fewer previous DUI charges
- No one was seriously injured by you while you were under the influence of drugs or alcohol
You may be charged with a DUI as a felony offense if you have three previous DUI convictions or if someone was injured by your driving. Felony DUI offenses may have fines and fees greater than $1,000, revocation of your license, and a prison sentence in a state prison. Depending on the circumstances, a felony DUI may trigger the 3 strikes law.
Felony DUIs and the 3 Strikes Law
While the original 1994 version of the law had any felony conviction count as a strike towards the harsh mandatory sentencing, the 2012 revision of the three strikes law has redefined what counts as a strike. According to the revised law, only a “serious” offense as defined by California Penal Code 1192.7 counts as a strike. It enumerates a number of crimes, including:
The law does not explicitly name felony DUI as an offense worthy of a strike against your record. However, the law does make it clear that other, unnamed offenses may warrant a strike against an individual. In particular, the law specifies that violent offenses or those which result in serious or fatal injuries can be counted as a strike.
Under California’s three strike law, a felony DUI charge may count as a strike against you if your DUI involved a serious injury to another person. If someone was hurt or killed as a result of your DUI, even if you have no prior DUI convictions, you can receive a felony DUI charge and face a strike on your record. If you have two strikes against you, a felony DUI charge could result in a 25 year to life prison sentence.
Non-Violent DUIs Can Sometimes Count Too
While the law typically requires that a felony DUI must have resulted in a serious or fatal injury to an individual, there are some cases in which a “simple” DUI may count as well. If you have a “serious” DUI on your record, such as a felony DUI manslaughter charge, the prosecution may seek to have a “simple” DUI count as a felony and a strike. The upgrade to felony and a strike is a result of California’s harsh stance against repeat offenses and has withstood review from the California Supreme Court.
Defending Yourself Against a Felony DUI
If you’re facing a felony DUI charge, you should understand that it is possible to raise a strong defense against the charges. Even if you believe that the DUI charge could count against you as a strike under the three strikes law, you are entitled to a zealous defense.
Skilled DUI lawyers are frequently able to help individuals just like you reduce or eliminate felony DUI charges. Evidence that is found to be collected improperly can be excluded from the case against you. Alternative explanations may make other evidence less convincing to a jury. These factors can result in a plea agreement with prosecution for a lesser charge or even the complete dismissal of the charges against you.
If you’re ready to see how an experienced DUI lawyer can help fight the DUI charges against you, use the form on the right or call (310) 862-0199 to schedule a free consultation today!