Drunk driving cases are treated harshly in Destin, and when someone gets seriously hurt as the result of a DUI accident, the penalties can be devastating.
AB hired me to defend him. He was charged with DUI with Serious Bodily Injury. The allegations against him involved a drunk driving accident that resulted in his friend and passenger sustaining serious injuries.
Under Florida’s Criminal Punishment Code, AB’s charge was a 3rd-degree felony with a maximum sentence of 5 years in prison. Making things more difficult, under the Sentencing Guidelines, his minimum sentence was 51 months in prison after accounting for the severity of the victim’s injuries.
The police did a good job investigating this case. After reviewing all of the discovery material in the case, it did not appear that there were any legal problems with how the police conducted their investigation. The testing of AB’s blood alcohol level indicated that he was well over the legal limit at the time of the accident, and the testing and analysis of AB’s blood was done properly.
When AB first met with me, he told me that his current public defender was telling him that the best they could do for him was to just accept the 51 months in prison. They were not willing to look at any other alternatives.
I promised AB that I would not just roll over; that I would look at every possible option before accepting the prison sentence. I started researching the issue of serious bodily injury and what level of proof the State needed in order to establish it. I found something to work with in the case law and prepared a Motion to Dismiss. Going into the hearing on the motion, I felt like we had maybe a 50/50 chance of winning.
On the day of the hearing, the prosecutor approached me and asked if my client would accept a plea to misdemeanor DUI with no jail time. I discussed this with AB and he gladly accepted the offer. He was able to plea to a misdemeanor and avoid a prison sentence and a felony conviction on his record.
If you are being charged with a felony DUI in Destin, don’t just accept the first plea offer. And if you aren’t happy with your public defender, feel free to give me a call. I’d be glad to help.
Call Flaherty & Merrifield today at (850) 243-6097 for a free consultation.