If you are being arrested for Operating Under the Influence (OUI) in Massachusetts, you may find yourself wondering if you will be charged with a misdemeanor or a felony. The answer to this question is not as simple as you may like it to be, but there are many different factors that ultimately lead to the determination of whether or not this crime will be charged as a felony or as a misdemeanor.
Regardless of whether you have been charged with a misdemeanor or a felony, it is essential that you work with an experienced, aggressive OUI attorney in Massachusetts to ensure that these charges do not impact your life any worse than they already have. A misdemeanor, while in itself a “lesser” charge, can lead to future issues that you may not even consider as you are focusing on working through your immediate charges, which is understandable, but a great reason why we will be able to give you the support that you deserve.
Read more below about the different factors that go into determining whether your charges will be either a misdemeanor or a felony, and contact us now to get working on your defense regardless of the degree of charges.
What Is the Difference Between Misdemeanor and Felony?
There are many subtle differences between misdemeanor and felony charges, but the most important and obvious are that misdemeanors often come with less-harsh punishments than a felony. In Massachusetts, a misdemeanor may result in under (or around) one year in a local or county jail. Commonly, a misdemeanor trial will not have a jury present, and the case may take less time than a felony.
A felony comes with longer incarceration, and the sentences may take place in a federal or state prison. In addition, the fines associated with a guilty finding are larger, and there may be a jury present during the case. Often, a felony case may take longer than a misdemeanor case because of the increased penalties.
Misdemeanor Operating Under the Influence in Massachusetts
If you are arrested for either your first or second OUI in Massachusetts, the base charge will be a misdemeanor. However, there are many other things that could upgrade or enhance your charges. On their own, the first two OUI charges are filed as misdemeanors, but Massachusetts is very strict on OUI laws and has many different ways that the charges can be turned into a felony depending on your own situation, criminal history, details of your arrest, and more.
For instance, if you are arrested for OUI and there is a minor under the age of 15 in the vehicle, you will be additionally charged with child endangerment, which is also a misdemeanor, but there are many other things that could happen during the arrest or lead to the arrest that also change the outcome. If you are on probation or parole, are driving without a license or with a suspended license, are found to be in possession of an illegal firearm or scheduled drugs, or more, the final charges may include felonies.
If you are being arrested for your first or second OUI charge, and there are no additional factors that could alter the charges, then you will be charged with a misdemeanor OUI and will be facing penalties, possible jail time, and license suspensions. The penalties associated with each charge increases beyond the first arrest.
Felony Operating Under the Influence in Massachusetts
If you are arrested for a third, fourth, or fifth OUI in Massachusetts, you will automatically be charged with a felony. Along with the felony designation for these arrests, you will be facing mandatory minimum sentences, increased fines, longer license suspensions, and the possibility of greater impacts on any future possible criminal cases because of your history of felony charges.
After your fifth OUI in Massachusetts, you will be unable to ever have your license reinstated, and will have no opportunity to apply for a hardship license in order to help you get to and from work or to special medical treatments that you may require.
Contact Us Today
Being charged with a felony offense in Massachusetts means that there will likely be a lot more work that needs to go into building and maintaining your defense. This means that it is essential that you partner with the right attorney for the job. Take the first step by contacting us today and learning more about how we will help you navigate your case based on our history of successes and experience in the Massachusetts court system.
Whether you are charged with a misdemeanor or a felony OUI, it is essential that you build as strong a defense as possible. As you can see above, while a misdemeanor may have fewer consequences than a felony, each misdemeanor you are found guilty of will cause future issues and may ultimately lead to felony charges.