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Practices > Riverside and Orange County DUI Lawyers > Felony DUI / DUI Causing Injury

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In California, a person’s 4th DUI in 10 years can be automatically charged as a Felony rather than a misdemeanor. But, that’s not the only way that a DUI can be charged as a felony. There are some crimes under the California Penal and Vehicles codes that are known as “wobblers.” This means the prosecutor could charge them as misdemeanors or felonies. For example, if you were charged under California Vehicle Code section 23153 (a) and or (b), DUI causing injury, your case can be charged as a misdemeanor if they determine the injuries to be minor, or as a felony if the injuries are of a more serious nature. This can occur even if it’s your 1st DUI offense. If you are charged with a felony DUI, you are facing possible state prison time.

The procedure in a felony case is somewhat different from that in a misdemeanor. Similar to a misdemeanor, your first appearance before the court will be at your arraignment (where you plead guilty or not guilty and your attorney obtains discovery). One difference is, that with a felony, your presence is required at each and every court appearance. After arraignment, you will go back to court for a pre-preliminary hearing and then an actual preliminary hearing. The preliminary hearing is like a mini-trial where minimal evidence is put on to determine whether there exists sufficient evidence to hold you over on any and each of the charges against you. If the judge finds that sufficient cause exists, then you are "held to answer" and the case is sent to a trial court for pretrial and possible trial proceedings. From here, the case proceeds similarly to a misdemeanor again. A plea agreement can be reached at any stage, either prior to or after preliminary hearing, in a felony case.

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