Most OWI charges are brought as misdemeanors, but certain situations will allow prosecutors to charge your OWI (Operating With Intoxication) charge as a Felony OWI (similar to a DWI charge in other states).
With a minimum of 6 months of confinement time for the lowest of felony conviction, the need for a skilled OWI defense attorney is critical to you.
What Constitutes a Felony OWI?
A felony OWI may be filed against you if any of the following conditions exist:
- You have had a previous OWI conviction in the last five years
- You had a person under the age of 18 in your vehicle and you had a BAC above 0.15 or you were accused of operating your vehicle in a manner which endangered a person
- You were driving while intoxicated and you caused serious bodily injury or death
Penalties of a Felony Conviction
We understand the importance of avoiding a Felony OWI conviction on your record. If you are convicted of a felony, you will be subject to some severe penalties, including up to 3 years in jail, up to a $10,000 fine, participation and completion of a required drug/alcohol treatment program, and up to a two year license suspension.
A felony conviction requires a minimum sentence of 6 months up to a maximum of 3 years of confinement time. The three types of confinement time are: jail time, work release, and home detention. Jail time is exactly what it is: time behind bars. Keep in mind that all felony jail sentences are to be completed at the IN Department of Corrections; in other words, prison.
Your second option is work release. Work release means you are confined to a facility where you would only be allowed to leave for work, after which you are to immediately return to the work release facility. Think of it as jail with work privileges. Finally, you may be sentenced to home detention. Home detention is where you served your time at your residence. Home detention also allows you to leave for work.
Your sentence will also require you to complete a mandatory alcohol treatment program, the type of which will be determined by your initial assessment. A certified alcohol counselor will assess your issues with alcohol and then determine the proper course of treatment for you. Your treatment could range from alcohol education classes, which could last from 12-20 hours, to an Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP), where you would typically be required to attend 3-hour sessions, 3 times a week.
The IOP could last for several months, depending on your progress. Finally, in the worst case, the counselor could order you to complete an inpatient treatment program, where you would be confined to a treatment facility for the duration of the program. These types of programs generally last anywhere from 30 to 180 days, depending on the patient’s progress.
We Know How to Defend Felony OWI Charges
Suhre & Associates, LLC has the necessary experience and know-how to defend felony charges in Indianapolis. We come armed with our knowledge of the law and criminal procedures that govern felony cases. We are adept at handling aggressive prosecutors and get felony charges reduced or dismissed.
After first gathering evidence in your case from the prosecutor, police, and any witnesses, we would then conduct our own thorough investigation of your case in order to collect all additional evidence not previously discovered by the prosecutor or the police.
From there, we take a look at several critical aspects of your arrest, including:
- Was it a legal stop?
- Was it a legal detention?
- Did the officer follow proper NHTSA regulations while administering field sobriety tests?
- Was there probable cause to arrest?
- Were proper procedures followed for a chemical test or refusal?
We then prepare a course of action by determining the strengths and weaknesses of your case. We would next determine whether to challenge particular pieces of evidence that potentially could be used against you by the prosecutor by filing a Motion to Suppress.
Finally, if no acceptable outcome could be reached through plea negotiations, we would then prepare for trial. As we proceed through your case, we continuously explore all options and avenues that could potentially affect your case.
Reducing the Impact of a Felony OWI Conviction
Sometimes, fighting a case is not always in your best interest. If the best decision for you in your case is to not fight, but to plead your felony OWI case out, you will want to make sure your attorney negotiates your ability to petition for AMS upon completion of your sentence.
AMS stands for Alternate Misdemeanor Sentencing. If you are successful in negotiating AMS as part of your sentence and subsequently complete your sentence, you would then be allowed to have your conviction recorded as a Class A Misdemeanor, instead of a Class D Felony, thus avoiding the stigma of being known as a convicted felon.
Call Suhre & Associates, LLC and let us put our legal experience to work for you.