Criminal Defense Lawyer
An arrest for driving under the influence can be confusing and scary. You may feel overwhelmed by the testing you may have to undergo and the citation you receive to appear in court, and you may have an unclear idea what happens next. This article attempts to give you a more complete idea of what to expect by illuminating the filing process and the types of charges you may face.
Process of Filing Charges
It is not the responsibility of the police officer(s) who arrested you to file the charges against you. That responsibility falls to the office of the District Attorney. Therefore, there is often a delay in the process while the police department files the report to the D.A.’s office. The delay may be extended if there are many reports coming in at about the same time.
However, the district attorney cannot delay indefinitely in filing your DUI charge. There is a statute of limitations that applies to criminal charges. Depending on the specific offense, the time limit may be anywhere from one to three years. If the applicable statute of limitations elapses and the D.A. has not yet filed the charges, you will not face legal repercussions for that particular offense because the court no longer has your case within its jurisdiction.
Types of Offenses
Most DUI arrests are misdemeanor offenses. If this is the case, the statute of limitations may be on the short end of the scale, usually no more than a year. The consequences for a misdemeanor DUI, even if it is your first offense, can still be quite severe, however. You are likely to have your license suspended and pay a significant fine. Jail time is a possibility as well.
Repeat DUI arrests are more likely to incur felony charges. Additionally, you may also be charged with a felony if you are involved in an accident that injures or kills someone, or if you endanger a child by having him or her in the car with you as a passenger while you are impaired. If your DUI ends up being a felony, the district attorney has a longer statute of limitations in which to file, typically up to three years, although it depends on the specific charge.
Penalties of DUI Conviction
If you already have a history of DUI conviction in the past, the penalties may be more severe. Even for a first-time offense, however, many states have mandatory minimum penalties in place to act as a deterrent. Regardless, penalties for a conviction may include some or all of the following:
- Community service
- Jail time
You don’t need to wait until you receive notice that charges are filed against you to discuss your case with a DUI lawyer in Arlington, VA. On the contrary, it is a good idea to have an initial consultation as soon as possible after your arrest. Contact a law office for more information.
Thanks to May Law, LLP for their insight into criminal law and what happens after a DUI arrest.