Prince William County Third Offense DUI Lawyer
After a second-offense DUI, a third offense of the same nature tells the courts that alleged offenders that they are in need of serious help. However, the courts often resort to mandatory sentences to ensure that someone is no longer able to pose as a danger to the public. However, this is not a remedy for addiction. Fortunately, a Prince William County third-offense DUI lawyer could help advocate for your needs and stand by you during your day in court.
Where Third-Offense DUI Charges in Prince William County Are Heard
A third-offense DUI charge typically originates in the General District Court in Prince William County, but trials for third offense DUI charges must be heard in the Circuit Court in Prince William County. In Virginia, there is a two-tiered trial court system, meaning that there are two levels of trial court. Trials for misdemeanors are held in the General District Court, and individuals may appeal the decision from that court to the Circuit Court.
A General District Court does not typically have a court reporter unless an individual hires one or a jury. Because the Constitution provides accused individuals with the right to have a jury trial, a trial for a third offense DUI, which is a felony charge, involving a jury is not heard in the General District Court.
It is considered commonplace for third-offense DUIs in Prince William County to start in the General District Court. The General District Court would have a preliminary hearing to determine if it is likely that the accused individual was involved in the crime as charged and if there is probable cause to send the case to trial. After the preliminary hearing, the case may be sent to the grand jury and scheduled for a trial in the Circuit Court in Prince William County.
How Courts Treat Third-Offense DUI Charges
Courts treat third offense DUI charges harshly due to political pressure on judges to restrict the freedom of those convicted of such an offense. Publicized events involving DUIs tend to focus on violent accidents with other drivers or pedestrians and often disclose whether or not the driver has been convicted of a DUI in the past and which judge allowed them to be out on bond. Judges in Prince William County are highly incentivized to punish drivers for third offense DUIs as harshly as possible to protect the public and their judicial reputation.
Even a minimum sentence for a third offense DUI is substantial. The mandatory minimum jail term for a third offense is 90 to 180 days depending on when the driver was charged and convicted of their first and second DUIs.
It is possible for a driver who has been convicted of a third offense DUI to have only the mandatory minimum jail term and be sentenced to strict terms of probation, giving the driver the opportunity to prove to the court that they have made significant changes to their lifestyle. However, after a third DUI conviction, the court is often reluctant to give a driver the chance to show that they have become a better person. No judge wants to handle a driver’s fourth DUI case or a driver who had a third DUI, was released on probation, and subsequently caused a serious accident. The majority of judges in Circuit Court tend to view repeat sentences as an indicator that the driver has a serious substance abuse problem, which could easily worsen over time.
A driver who appears unwilling to address their problems could seemingly pose more of a danger to society than an individual who faces those problems early on and proves to the court that they could be a responsible citizen. A judge’s default position is often that a driver convicted of a third offense DUI is a serious danger to society.
Contact an Attorney Who Could Help
After a third offense DUI, the court is no longer sympathetic to any alleged offender’s pleas. However, with the help of a Prince William County third-offense DUI lawyer’s help, you could work to show the steps you have taken to address addiction and have an attorney who could work to get you the minimum in sentencing. Reach out today.