In the state of Massachusetts, receiving a second DUI or OUI charge is not necessarily a felony. In most cases, First and second OUI charges are often counted as misdemeanors, while a third charge (and beyond) would be classified as a felony. However, there are exceptions to this rule, and you should know what they are.
Felony or Misdemeanor?
If you’re facing an OUI charge, then you may be wondering, “is an OUI a felony or misdemeanor?” Or does an OUI charge count as a misdemeanor? If you’re not familiar with the criminal justice system, then you may not know the exact difference between a felony and a misdemeanor. They both sound bad, but what do they mean?
Usually, a first or second offense OUI/DUI is classified as a misdemeanor in most states, such as Massachusetts. However, a first or second OUI charge can become a felony if your case involves any of the following situations:
- Serious bodily injury to another individual
- Death or manslaughter
Both of these charges are felonies in their own right, so when they occur along with a DUI/OUI charge, the consequences will automatically be those of a felony. A “Serious Bodily Injury” charge involves a mandatory jail sentence of at least six months with the potential for a sentence of up to ten years.
Meanwhile, if a death occurs as a result of the OUI/DUI in question, then the minimum mandatory sentence is five years in prison and a driver’s license suspension of at least fifteen years.
The Difference Between a Felony and a Misdemeanor
When it comes to the difference between a felony and a misdemeanor, there are three distinctions that Study.com outlines:
- The length of incarceration
- The type of imprisonment (House of Correction or State Prison)
- The long-term consequences
While the misdemeanor consequences are significantly less harsh than the consequences for a felony, they’re still incredibly severe and should not be taken lightly. Study.com explains some of the possible misdemeanor consequences you could be facing as a result of your second OUI charge:
- Jail Time: Misdemeanors can involve 30 days to a year in jail. The majority of misdemeanor cases are spent in a local House of Correction. However, the court has the ability “to decide whether or not multiple misdemeanor sentences run concurrently (together) or consecutively (one after the other),” which could lengthen the time spent in jail.
- Probation: The length of probation for misdemeanor cases can be as long or as short as the court deems necessary. There will be strict conditions for the defendant’s supervision, and if any of them are broken, a harsher punishment will occur.
- Fines: Many misdemeanor charges involve fines ranging from $50 to $2,000.
- Restitution: If there are victims and/or property damage involved in your case, then your misdemeanor charge may require you to pay back a specific amount of money to the people or businesses who were harmed.
Facing a second OUI felony or misdemeanor is no small matter, and you should always speak to an experienced DUI defense lawyer as soon as possible. Even though the misdemeanor consequences are less extreme than the OUI felony charge, they can still dramatically impact your life. Don’t hesitate to reach out to an attorney and request a DUI consultation so you can prepare a case that will help increase your odds of receiving a favorable outcome in court.