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Can Reckless Driving become a Felony?


Can Reckless Driving become a Felony?

The biggest and perhaps most important question you might have when facing the possibility of being charged with any offense is whether it is a felony or a misdemeanor? This is important for many reasons, as it is the difference between obtaining specific employment, being able to vote, having gun ownership rights, etc. Not only are these concerns, but is there jail or prison time linked to a felony conviction? Will you serve a period of probation or parole associated with such a charge and conviction? 

As you probably know, a misdemeanor is a less severe crime when compared to its counterpart, the felony. Felonies have a greater degree of seriousness and can sometimes carry jail or prison sentences. Misdemeanors, on the other hand, can carry lighter jail sentences, fines, and temporary punishments such as community service, etc. 


How is Reckless Driving Treated in California?

In California, there are two primary types of reckless driving: dry and wet. Generally speaking, dry reckless driving is a misdemeanor offense, where a wet reckless driving or DUI can serve as an enhancement and be considered a felony carrying harsher penalties. A dry reckless driving charge is the absence of alcohol, and although jail time, a fine, and even probation may result, it is not considered a “priorable” offense. That simply means that if you are later charged and convicted on a DUI, it will not be considered as an enhancing prior conviction. A wet reckless driving charge may be viewed as a lesser included offense than a DUI. Wet reckless simply implies that alcohol was present during the course of the violation, but you cannot initially be charged with this offense; it must be pleaded down. Bear in mind; however, that it is still considered equivalent to a DUI conviction, but with lighter penalties. 

According to the federal sentencing guidelines, there are generally three classifications of misdemeanors and five classifications of felonies. Now, these vary by jurisdiction, but in general, the three misdemeanor classifications are as follows: (A) carries a jail sentence of six to 12 months, (B) carries a jail sentence of 30 days to six months; and (C) carries a jail sentence of five to 30 days. Typically, jail time would be served at a local county jail rather than a state or federal prison. A felony; however, has five classifications, and they are as follows: (A) carries life in prison or the death penalty, (B) carries a sentence of 25 or more years, (C) carries a sentence of ten to 25 years, (D) carries a sentence of five to ten years; and, (E) carries a sentence of one to five years. 

Regardless of the classification of the offense, it is important that you seek the assistance of competent legal counsel to help you best understand your legal defense while identifying an outcome that best minimizes your risk. We here at the H Law group patiently await your call.

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