How does driving on a suspended or revoked license turn into a felony?
The State can upgrade an otherwise misdemeanor charge of driving on a suspended or revoked license. The State bases the upgrade upon the facts of the case. Further, the State could also base it upon a prior conviction for the same offense.
A felony based on the facts:
If you are involved in a motor vehicle accident while driving when your license is suspended or revoked, and you are responsible for a collision that causes personal injury, the State might upgrade the charge to a Class 4 felony.
A felony based upon prior conviction:
If the State has previously convicted you of driving without a license, and a police officer finds that you are driving without a license again, the police officer or State’s Attorney can charge this new case as a felony.
How to prevent the State’s Attorney from upgrading the charge:
The State’s Attorney usually first files driving on a suspended or revoked license as a misdemeanor and only upgrades the charge after the first court appearance. As an attorney, I would resolve the case on the first court appearance, while the charge is still a misdemeanor. This would not allow the prosecutor the opportunity to upgrade the charge.
Once the charge is a felony, how to have it reduced:
Just because the State’s Attorney charges you with a felony, does not mean the charge has to remain a felony. It is very common to have the State reduce a felony charge to a misdemeanor. The prosecutor does not automatically reduce the charge, but by filing pre-trial motions and moving forward to a hearing and a trial, I can make the prosecutor more likely to reduce the charge.
You can read the full law on driving on a suspended or revoked license HERE.
Information on misdemeanor charge of driving on a suspended or revoked license is located HERE.