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Criminal defense in Denver, CO, is a complicated matter, and you’ll likely come across many terms you’re not familiar with, such as lesser included offenses. You can count on your DUI attorney to represent your best interests in court, and to ensure that you’re fully informed of all aspects of your case.

Understanding Lesser Included Offenses

A lesser included offense is any less serious charge that is paired with a more serious charge. For example, a defendant might be charged with homicide and assault with a deadly weapon. The assault charge is the lesser included offense. If the defendant used a handgun to fatally shoot the victim, it wouldn’t be possible for him or her to commit the homicide without also committing assault with a deadly weapon. If the handgun was illegally possessed, then the defendant could also face a lesser included offense of a firearms charge.

Negotiating for a Wet Reckless Charge

It might seem counterintuitive that a person could face multiple charges for some action, but there are reasons for this. For prosecutors, a lesser included offense is like a failsafe. A defendant has a greater chance of being convicted of at least one of the charges. For defendants, lesser included offenses may offer some opportunities for plea bargaining. For example, your DUI attorney might inform you that, in addition to being charged with driving under the influence, you’ve been charged with reckless driving—a lesser included offense. If you agree to plead guilty to reckless driving, the prosecutor may agree to drop the DUI charge. In this case, the reckless driving charge would be called a “wet reckless” offense.

Being Charged with DWAI

Not all states have DWAI charges, which refer to driving while ability impaired. Colorado is one that does. DWAI is often confused as being a lesser included offense for DUI, but there’s a slight difference. Both charges are misdemeanors. However, a conviction of DUI requires most defendants to have a BAC of at least 0.08% (with exceptions for commercial and underage drivers). But a driver with a BAC between 0.05% and 0.08% can be convicted of DWAI. While DWAI still carries legal penalties, there’s a greater chance that the defendant can keep his or her driver’s license. It may be possible to negotiate a DUI down to a DWAI, but it isn’t possible to be convicted of both DUI and DWAI for the same offense.

Lesser Included Offenses Explained by Mastro, Barnes & Stazzone P.C.