If your felony DUI conviction or charges were downgraded during 2021 due to the Colorado Supreme Court’s ruling in Linnebur v. People, you may be at risk of re-prosecution for felony DUI.
Although it might sound like double jeopardy, the Court preempted this criticism. In Linnebur, the Court decided that allowing district attorneys to again file DUI felony charges against those with downgraded convictions would not violate the constitutional protection against double jeopardy.
The reason? “… where a legal error occurs in the trial court, double jeopardy typically does not bar retrial,” as Chief Justice Brian D. Boatright wrote in the Linnebur opinion.
The legal error in question here was the application of the standard of proof when it came to proving a defendant’s previous DUI convictions. In 2015, it became law that someone would face more serious consequences if they were convicted of a DUI with three prior convictions.
This led to the practice of treating someone’s prior DUI convictions as sentence enhancers for the fourth conviction, which only required a preponderance of evidence to prove – despite the consequences involving felony-level punishment.
Linnebur clarified that prosecutors were required to prove a defendant’s three prior convictions to a jury beyond reasonable doubt – a much higher standard of proof – to convict the defendant of felony DUI. This ruling constituted that recent felony DUI convictions were the result of legal errors if they occurred when a defendant’s three prior DUI convictions were proved under the preponderance of evidence.
This led to those convictions being overturned due to the legal error, but – in the state supreme court’s opinion – left the door open for re-prosecution of DUI felonies with the higher standard of proof to prove three prior convictions had occurred.
Facing New Felony DUI Charges? We Can Help.
If you are facing new felony DUI charges as a result of the Colorado Supreme Court’s ruling, or for another reason entirely, our legal team at Orr Law Firm can help. We have successfully defended many clients against DUI charges, including those involving felony DUI.
For more information about how we can help, contact Orr Law Firm online today.