Getting pulled over is a nerve-wracking experience, and getting arrested can be scary, especially if you’re unsure of how you might be charged. There are big differences between a misdemeanor and a felony charge, and a DUI – or operating a vehicle under the influence (OVI), if you are in Ohio – can be either. Knowing the facts and the typical boundaries of each type of charge can give you peace of mind, and so can hiring the right legal team. Minnillo & Jenkins Co. LPA can help you with a range of legal troubles, and our first priority is protecting you, your license, and all the other important elements of your life that a conviction may jeopardize. Read on to learn more, and then schedule a consultation to make a Minnillo & Jenkins OVI lawyer part of your team. We look forward to working with you!
In part one of this series, we discussed the fact that an OVI can be pursued as either a misdemeanor or a felony, and that the prosecutor’s decision will rest on a number of factors. Today’s article will cover the differences between misdemeanors and felonies, as well as what factors may influence the prosecutor’s decision. As always, we encourage you to remember that legislation and the interpretation of laws can change, and that this blog should not be your only source of legal advice. If you are struggling with an OVI charge, contact Minnillo & Jenkins today for updated information and the exact answers you need!
Option #1: Misdemeanor
What is a Misdemeanor?
For those of you unfamiliar with the justice system, there are different levels of offenses. An infraction would be the lowest level and the least serious offense. Speeding is often considered an infraction. A misdemeanor is the next level — more problematic than an infraction, but not as serious as a felony. The punishment for a misdemeanor crime can be up to a year in jail, but the consequences are more often limited to fines. There are other alternatives available to the judge, too, including community service and probation. Nonviolent crimes like shoplifting are often considered misdemeanors. One important thing to keep in mind is that you have the right to a trial and a jury when you are charged with a misdemeanor, which you can exercise at your discretion or the discretion of your OVI lawyer.
When an OVI is a Misdemeanor
An OVI is typically charged as a misdemeanor. It’s the standard that most prosecutors will start from, especially if it is your first offense. You can even expect to be charged with a misdemeanor for a second offense in some cases, but as we mentioned, misdemeanors are typically reserved for nonviolent cases. If anyone was hurt or endangered because of your actions, the prosecutor may be considering a felony charge. Read on for more details of what may lead to a felony OVI.
Option #2: Felony
What is a Felony?
A felony is the most serious kind of crime with which you may be charged. It’s typically the charge of choice for crimes that involve threatening or enacting harm on another person, including crimes such as burglary, kidnapping, arson, and murder. Not all felonies are violent, however; white collar crimes and fraud are also covered under felony charges. The punishment is often a year or more in prison, and a felony can come with other consequences as well, such as the loss of your right to vote or legally own a firearm. The penalties are high, to say the least.
When an OVI is a Felony
It may seem extreme to include an OVI charge in the same category as murder, but remember that drunk driving or driving under the influence can come with very serious consequences. If you killed or seriously injured another person while impaired, you are likely to face a felony charge. If no one was directly harmed, that doesn’t mean that you can assume a misdemeanor charge, however. Transporting a child in the vehicle with you while you are impaired can lead the prosecutor to pursue a more serious charge, as can prior convictions.
You should always consider the consequences of your actions before you do anything that might lead to your arrest. Compared to a felony charge, a misdemeanor charge may seem like a slap on the wrist, but it can come with consequences that seriously impact your everyday life. Protect what matters to you, whether it may be your freedom or your license and your job, and turn to the professionals. Minnillo & Jenkins Co. LPA is here to help you protect your rights and your way of life. The sooner you get experienced legal counsel on your side, the faster you can get your life back on track. Contact us today to get started!