When a driver who previously has been convicted of Driving While Intoxicated, Driving With a Blood Alcohol Content of .08% or Greater or Aggravated Driving While Intoxicated within the past ten years is re-arrested and charged with another DWI offense, the current offense will be raised from a misdemeanor to a felony charge.
Misdemeanor DWI offenses are normally handled in a local criminal court, such as Buffalo City Court, or a town or village court.
Felony offenses, however, will usually be moved to a county court that has jurisdiction to try these more serious charges.
Following a felony DWI arrest, a driver will still be required to make an initial appearance in a local village, town or city court for purposes of conducting an arraignment – where the defendant will be formally charged – and to address issues such as whether bail is necessary.
A defendant charged with a felony will also be informed that he or she has a right to a hearing to determine whether there is sufficient evidence of a felony to require removal of the case to a higher court.
An experienced DWI lawyer will examine the evidence and determine whether there is any advantage to holding such a hearing. If there is not, the hearing may be waived.
Once the felony case is removed from the local criminal court, it will be screened by a grand jury to determine what charges are supported by the evidence.
The grand jury will then issue a document called an indictment, which lists the charges the grand jury found sufficiently supported.
The charges may be exactly the same as the ones initially charged, although in some cases new or different charges are included based on the evidence presented to the grand jury.
Following issuance of the indictment, the defendant must appear in the county court before a different judge and be arraigned a second time on the charges.
The case will then proceed to trial or plea in the county court.
If you have been arrested for a felony DWI, we are experienced DWI lawyers who can help you at 716-631-9999.