Can the Prosecutor turn a misdemeanor DUI into a felony DUI after your already charged with a misdemeanor?
Yes. The prosecutor can change a charge of DUI to a felony DUI even after your charged as a misdemeanor.
What are the reasons why a DUI can become a Felony DUI:
If you are charged with misdmeanor driving under the influence and it is your second or greater offense of driving under the influence, there is the realistic possibility that your case will be upgraded to a felony. The difference between a misdmeanor charge and a felony charge is significant in both the opportunity at trial and sentencing.
First, although you have an opportunity to have a trial on both a misdemeanor and a felony charge, it is preferred to proceed on a less serious charge because there is the less punishment involved should a person be found guilty. For example: a felony DUI, the punishment could be up to 3 years or greater in the Illinois Department of Corrections.
Because the punishment is significantly greater, you are less likely to have a trial and be subjected to the increased penalty.
Greater chance of Jail on a Felony DUI:
Additionally, a misdermeanor judge rarely sends a person to jail. However, a felony judge sentences individuals to life sentences (for some crimes, not DUI’s) so for a felony judge to hand you 3 years of prison, it’s no big deal for them. Felony judges handle murder, robbery, rape, and any other major case you can think of. Your felony DUI case will be in the same room as these cases.
Therefore, as an attorney, there are steps I can take to try to prevent your DUI from being upgraded to a felony case. The most important step is to seek an early disposition of your case before a prosecutor can refer the case to felony review.
What can be done to stop the charge from being upgraded to a felony:
As an attorney I can attempt to dispose of the case on the first court appearance. This means get the best possible deal and have my client plead guilty to the deal on the first date. Once you plead guilty, the prosecutor cannot charge you again with the same offense and they cannot charge the charge from a misdemeanor to a felony.
As each case presents its own set of facts, call me to discuss the specifics of your case.