Sometimes, driving under the influence (DUI) is charged as a felony. Drivers may face felony charges if they have too many past DUI convictions. A DUI causing injury could also lead to felony charges in California. Felony charges are obviously very serious. Misdemeanor charges may result in less severe penalties.
Can a felony DUI drop to a misdemeanor? In some situations, a felony charge could change to a misdemeanor. Find out more about this process with this article.
Changing a Felony to a Misdemeanor in Los Angeles
Only some felony charges may be reduced to misdemeanors in Los Angeles. These charges are sometimes called “wobblers.” The court may treat wobblers as misdemeanors or felonies. Some charges are always considered felonies, including:
- Gross vehicular manslaughter
- Second degree murder
Other charges are wobblers. DUI causing injury and vehicular manslaughter are both wobblers, for example. This means that a DUI lawyer could help you get your charge dropped to a misdemeanor. Let’s dig more into this legal process.
Determining How to Charge a Wobbler in California
The prosecution decides how to handle wobblers in California. This means they decide whether you should face misdemeanor or felony charges. The prosecution considers the facts of your case when determining how to charge a wobbler. They may also review your past criminal history.
Prior DUI convictions could increase the odds that you’ll face felony charges. However, this is not always the case. A lawyer can review your situation to help you handle either a misdemeanor or a felony charge. Find out more by calling (310) 862-0199.
Felony DUIs and Penal Code Section 17(b) Motions
A lawyer can help you get a felony DUI charge reduced to a misdemeanor. This could involve the use of a Penal Code Section 17(b) motion. Your lawyer requests that a judge reduce your charges with a PC 17(b) motion. Note that you may only use this motion for wobblers.
Your lawyer has multiple options to make a 17(b) motion. This motion may occur at:
- The end of your preliminary hearing
- During your sentencing hearing
- After a conviction, if you completed felony probation
Note that your lawyer may not request a 17(b) motion if you spent time in prison in California. Any time in prison disqualifies you from a 17(b) motion. This means that you cannot get your charges reduced to a misdemeanor after going to prison.
Reasons to Reduce a Felony DUI to a Misdemeanor
It is legally complicated to reduce a felony DUI to a misdemeanor. So, why do some drivers take this step? Generally, the results of a felony conviction are harsher than those for a misdemeanor. A felony conviction may result in:
- Prison time instead of jail time
- Higher fines
- Longer usage of an ignition interlock device (IID)
Additionally, a felony conviction may impact your life going forward. Convicted felons face numerous restrictions in California. You may lose your right to own or keep firearms after a felony conviction. You may no longer be able to serve on a jury.
Many professional organizations deny licenses to convicted felons. A felony conviction also shows up on your background check. Employers and landlords may not approve your applications if you are a convicted felon.
Understand the Effects of Reducing a Felony to a Misdemeanor
Note that reducing your charge to a misdemeanor does not undo all the results of a conviction. You may still face jail time, fines, and the use of an IID. Additionally, you may have to attend DUI school for a misdemeanor or felony conviction.
Furthermore, the court may decide that the offense still counts as a “strike” against you. The Three Strikes Law in California applies to DUI offenses. Some licensing agencies may also still treat the offense as a felony. Speak to your lawyer about the lasting effects of a felony accusation.
Your lawyer can help you get your felony charge reduced to a misdemeanor. A lawyer can also focus on defending you from felony charges. In some situations, you may even work on getting a charge expunged from your record. Review all of your options right now by speaking to an experienced attorney.
Contact a Lawyer About Dropping a Felony DUI to a Misdemeanor
In some cases, a felony DUI may be reduced to a misdemeanor. A DUI lawyer can help you drop your charges to a misdemeanor level offense. Find out more by calling (310) 862-0199. You can also complete our online contact form to get help.
Reach out to us now for a free consultation. We’re prepared to review all your options if you were charged with a felony in California.