If you were recently
arrested for driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol in Orange County,
or anywhere else in California, you may be wondering, “How long
does the prosecutor have to file charges against me?” This is a
valid question indeed, especially because by law, the state has to file
DUI charges within a specified timeframe – this is called the
statute of limitations. If the state fails to file
DUI charges within California’s statute of limitations, it loses the right to
file charges permanently.
How long does the state have to file DUI charges against you? It depends
on whether you’ll be charged with a misdemeanor DUI or a
felony DUI; the deadline is much longer for a felony DUI.
Misdemeanor DUI: The statute of limitations is one year.
Felony DUI: The statute of limitations is three (3) years.
In reality, by far the majority of California DUIs are misdemeanors. DUI
defendants enter felony territory when it’s their fourth DUI within
a 10-year time period, or when they seriously injured or killed another
driver or passenger, a pedestrian, a bicyclist, or even one of their own
passengers while driving under the influence.
Please note that in California DUI is a wobbler offense. That means it
can be prosecuted as a felony or a misdemeanor depending on the facts
of the case. If yours was a simple first-time DUI and nobody was injured
or killed, you should be facing misdemeanor charges and the prosecutor
up to one year to file charges against you.
Haven’t Heard From the Courts?
If you were recently arrested for DUI and you still haven’t heard
back from the court, you may be concerned. Can you drive? Should you enroll
in AA classes? Will you be arrested and hauled off to jail? Did the District
Attorney forget about you? Did your case slip through the cracks? These
are all valid concerns, which is why it’s important to speak to
an experienced DUI attorney. You need sound legal advice.
We’ll tell you right now that just because you haven’t heard
from the court, it doesn’t mean they aren’t building a case
against you behind the scenes, because more than likely they are and it’s
only a matter of time before you hear from the prosecutor. Remember, he
or she has up to 12 months to file charges against you, and it’s
better to be proactive than reactive.
If you were arrested for DUI, don’t wait. Instead,
contact our office for a free case evaluation with Orange County’s