Los Angeles DUI: Felony vs. Misdemeanor

DUI lawIn Los Angeles, DUI offenses can be either felonies or misdemeanors depending on a number of different factors. A defendant’s first, second or third DUI offense is typically a misdemeanor and subsequent offenses occurring within a ten year period can be charged as a felony. There are other aggravating factors that can lead to felony DUI charges. The penalties associated with misdemeanor and felony offenses are very different and it is important to understand these differences.

Felony Based on Previous Convictions

A person’s first, second and third DUI offenses that occur within a ten year period will be charged as misdemeanor level offenses. Even though these are misdemeanors, defendants with multiple prior DUI convictions can expect to be sentenced to lengthy jail sentences. On a third DUI offense occurring within ten years, the Court must sentence the defendant to at least 120 days in jail as a condition of probation.

When a defendant is charged with his or her fourth or subsequent DUI offense within a ten year period, the offense can be charged as a felony. If convicted, the defendant can be sentenced to prison and would have a felony conviction on his or her criminal record.

Felony Based on Injury or Death

When a defendant is involved in a DUI collision that results in an injury to another person, he or she will be charged with DUI causing injury in violation of California Vehicle Code Section 23153 VC. This is a “wobbler” offense that can be charged as either a felony or a misdemeanor. When making a filing decision, the prosecutor will consider factors such as the defendant’s criminal record, the extent of injuries to the victim and the defendant’s blood alcohol content. If convicted, the defendant can be sentenced to prison and would be expected to pay restitution to any and all victims as a condition of probation.

If another person dies as a result of a DUI collision, the defendant can be charged with gross vehicular manslaughter under the influence in violation of California Penal Code Section 191.5(a) PC or vehicular manslaughter under the influence pursuant to California Penal Code Section 191.5(b) PC. Gross vehicular manslaughter is always a felony offense and those convicted can be sentenced to prison. Vehicular manslaughter while under the influence is a “wobbler” offense that can be charged as a felony or a misdemeanor. After the defendant’s preliminary hearing, the judge may agree to reduce the charge to a misdemeanor under California Penal Code Section 17(b) PC. If the defendant had a prior DUI offense, he or she could be charged with DUI murder in violation of California Penal Code Section 187 PC. Those convicted would be sentenced to prison.

Difference Between Felony and Misdemeanor

The difference between felony and misdemeanor offenses are significant. A misdemeanor is defined as a criminal offense where the maximum punishment is a year in jail and is considered less serious than a felony. A felony offense is punishable by prison and can carry significant consequences. A person convicted of a felony would face numerous collateral consequences, including losing the right to vote and own firearms, and may have difficulties finding housing and employment. In some cases, a person may be able to have his or her felony conviction reduced to a misdemeanor and then dismissed as part of an expungement motion.

If you have been charged with either a misdemeanor or felony DUI in the Los Angeles area, it is crucial you speak with a skilled DUI attorney as soon as possible. Michael Kraut is a former Deputy District Attorney with over 14 years of prosecutorial experience who understands how to effectively defend DUI clients whether they are charged with a felony or a misdemeanor DUI offense.

For more information about felony and misdemeanor DUI offenses in Los Angeles, and to schedule your free consultation, contact Michael Kraut at the Kraut Law Group located at 6255 Sunset Boulevard, Suite 1480, Los Angeles, CA 90028. Mr. Kraut can be reached 24/7 at 888-334-6344 or 323-464-6453.

Share |
Client Reviews
He gave me the peace of mind that my DUI case was going to be resolved. He fought for what it was needed and helped me by answering all my questions. Mike is not an average attorney. He’s a very experienced, honest and straightforward person that is there for you!
I hired Attorney Mike Kraut and I'm am so happy and grateful that I did! I was arrested for a DUI because my BAC level was over the .08 limit. I ended up getting a wet and reckless instead of a DUI. I still have to do some classes and I'm on probation, but I do not have a DUI on my record. If you have a DUI hire Attorney Kraut, he definitely knows his stuff!
Avvo User
There aren't enough positive words to write about Mike, but let me be clear that this is the only lawyer worth hiring in Los Angeles. Mike is professional, caring, and an absolute champion at winning in court.
Kyle, Avvo User
Mike Kraut is not a typical lawyer. He is a straightforward person with a true heart and a sympathetic ear. He is also smart and connected and he cares about the people who seek out his help. He got my son out of a jam. He did it quickly and painlessly. I recommend Mike Kraut to anyone that needs his services.
Thank you Mike for helping my son.
Mark, Avvo User
Michael Kraut is a rock star lawyer. I was really happy and satisfied with the results I received from Michael and his team. A few months back I was being accused of a serious felony. Mike gave me sound legal advice and worked diligently to clear my name. Mike was great at always keeping me updated and returning calls. Great, great lawyer I cant say enough about this man!
Eric, Google User
How can I express how relieved and pleased I am with Michael's professional abilities to have my Felony brought down to a misdameanor to a possible dismissal with deferment. With his care my life has been turned around and cannot say how helpful he's been not only in my case but life. He, himself has changed how I view criminal lawyers. Thank you so much Michael!
Owen, Google User