How Will a Prior Conviction Affect Your Criminal Case?

Having a criminal record will almost certainly affect a new criminal case. A prior conviction can result in more serious charges, or the prosecutor might refuse to offer a plea bargain. Your criminal record can also affect your new case if you go to trial.

If you have prior criminal convictions and were charged with a new crime, our criminal defense team can analyze your situation, explain how your criminal record could impact your new case, and develop a defense strategy to minimize the impact of your prior conviction and lead to a successful outcome in your new case.

Prior Convictions Can Mean More Severe Penalties

If you have a criminal record and are charged with a new crime, you may face enhanced charges that could result in larger fines and a longer prison sentence.

One of the first things police officers and prosecutors do during their investigation is examine a defendant’s criminal history. Once the police and prosecutor learn you have a criminal record, they will be unlikely to cut you any breaks.

Many criminal charges carry enhancements if you have a criminal record. For example, if you have a prior DWUI conviction and are charged with drunk driving again, the penalties you face will be more severe for a second or third offense.

If you plead guilty or are convicted in your new case, your criminal record could affect the sentence the judge imposes. Judges generally have discretion when it comes to sentencing. If you have prior convictions, the judge is likely to impose a harsher punishment. In some cases, judges are required to impose more severe penalties on repeat offenders.

When Prior Convictions Are Admissible at Trial

Your criminal record can also affect your case if you choose to take your new case to trial. A prosecutor is generally not allowed to discuss a defendant’s prior criminal convictions in front of the jury as it is considered prejudicial. However, there are exceptions.

A person’s credibility is at issue anytime they testify in a legal proceeding. In certain circumstances, the judge will admit evidence about a person’s criminal record so the jury can assess the witness’s credibility and trustworthiness.

For example, evidence of a prior assault charge generally would not be admissible as evidence. However, suppose you were later charged with stalking the person who accused you of assault. In that case, your prior assault conviction would be admissible to show that you had motive to stalk the witness in the new case.

If you choose to testify at your own trial, the prosecutor may be able to produce evidence of prior convictions to try to show you are dishonest. A prior conviction for a crime of dishonesty like theft or fraud will likely be admissible. Even so, the prosecutor generally cannot ask about prior convictions that are more than ten years old.

When prosecutors ask questions about a person’s criminal record they are limited to questions about actual convictions. They cannot ask questions about pending cases or arrests that did not result in a conviction.

What If My Criminal Record Was Expunged?

Expungement is the legal process of removing the record of a person’s prior criminal convictions or having them sealed from public view. Someone who wishes to seek expungement must file a petition for expungement with the court and convince a judge they deserve to have their criminal record expunged. When a criminal case is expunged, it is removed from public record. However, judges, law enforcement officers, and prosecutors will always be able to see your criminal record, even if it has been expunged.

Additional Questions About How Prior Convictions Affect Your Criminal Case?

Evidence of prior convictions can have a damaging effect on a new criminal case. If you were charged with a crime and have a criminal record, our experienced criminal defense team can analyze your situation, help you evaluate your options, and work to obtain an optimal result in your new case.

To learn more, contact the criminal defense team at Just Criminal Law today to schedule your personalized case review and strategy session.

DISCLAIMER: The information contained in this article is offered for educational purposes only. This information is not offered as legal advice. A person accused of a crime should always consult with an attorney before making decisions that have legal consequences.