How can the court change my DUI to a 3rd offense?

Q: I was charged with DUI and my lawyer wanted to challenge the stop because the cop has a reputation of pulling people over on “hunches”. (the judge ruled the stop was legal). All my paperwork says that I am being charged with DUI 1st offense. Now, 10 months later the court changed my charge from dui 1st offense to DUI 3rd offense. I only found out about this because I looked up my court status online at the clerk of courts. How does the court get an elementary school “do over” when this thing went on for months as a 1st offense?

A: I would need more information to give you a specific answer. However, it sounds like the DA just discovered your prior two DUI’s. They can amend the information when they receive new evidence. This can happen especially if the prior convictions were out of state. Your counsel can object to an amendment of the Criminal Information (charges). However, I don’t know if that would be a valid defense if a jury has not been sworn in and double jeopardy has attached. I believe the Commonwealth can amend their Criminal Information (charges) upon discovering new information. You either have two priors or you don’t have two priors.

If you feel like this issue relates to you, or a problem that you are experiencing, please contact me so that we can discuss your situation.