How Your Criminal History Could Affect Your Current Case

Your prior brushes with the law can have an enormous influence on your life. Once you pay your fines or serve jail time, you will likely have to face the additional collateral consequences of your conviction. Having a criminal conviction can prevent you from getting desirable jobs and living where you would like. 

What’s worse, your criminal history can influence a prosecutor’s decisions about new charges and can result in harsher punishments for subsequent convictions. If you have legal questions about a current criminal case, seek the advice of an experienced criminal defense attorney immediately. 

Criminal Offense Classifications

Criminal offenses are generally classified as misdemeanors or felonies. Misdemeanors are crimes that are considered less serious. A misdemeanor conviction can result in a jail sentence of up to one year. 

Felonies are crimes that are considered more serious. A felony conviction can result in a prison sentence of at least a year. A conviction for a serious felony such as murder or rape can result in life in prison. 

Having a prior criminal history, whether misdemeanor or felony, can have a negative impact on your criminal case. 

How Your Criminal History Can Influence New Charges

Your criminal history can influence new criminal charges against you. If you have prior criminal convictions, you should expect the police and prosecutors to treat you harshly. Your criminal history can influence a prosecutor to authorize new or enhanced criminal charges. 

If you are a repeat offender, your conviction can lead to more serious consequences. For example, the penalties for a DUI/DWI get more and more serious with every conviction.

How Your Criminal History Can Increase Punishment 

Judges in Kentucky use the Kentucky Sentencing Guidelines to calculate jail and prison sentences after a conviction. The Kentucky Sentencing Guidelines categorizes different criminal offenses to help determine an appropriate criminal sentence.

If someone is convicted of a felony, they can face state prison time. Those who are convicted of serious felonies can end up in a Kentucky prison for life. Those who are “persistent felony offenders” face even harsher consequences. If a judge determines that you are a persistent felony offender, then you can expect higher mandatory minimum sentences. 

Can Anyone Discuss Your Criminal Record in Front of a Jury? 

Typically, your criminal record cannot be brought up in front of a jury during a trial. This is meant to prevent jurors from judging a defendant on things that are unrelated to the case at hand. 

However, there are situations where a defendant’s criminal record can be brought up during a trial. For example, if you have a prior conviction for theft, then the prosecutor can bring this up if you testify. If you testify, prosecutors can challenge your honesty with prior convictions that relate to dishonesty or theft.

A prosecutor, however, cannot bring up a prior assault conviction to prove that you are a violent person. The only time that this type of conviction would be admissible is if you testify that you are not a violent person. Then this conviction can be used to attack your credibility. 

Can Law Enforcement Find Convictions That Have Been Expunged?

If you have a criminal past, then you may be able to erase the public record of your criminal past with an expungement. If you have successfully erased a prior conviction from your record by getting an expungement granted, then all records relating to that case will be erased. It is important to understand that only public government records will be affected by an expungement. 

An individual’s criminal history will always be accessible for police and prosecuting authorities on a private database. Expungements are beneficial for people to avoid the collateral consequences of criminal convictions. An expungement can result in getting your gun ownership rights back, as well as the ability to qualify for desirable housing and employment. An expungement may help you in certain areas, including your current case. If you have legal questions, call us at Oakley & Oakley LLC so we can help! 

Make Sure to Speak to an Attorney if You Have Been Accused of a Crime 

If you have been accused of a crime, it is important that you speak to an experienced criminal defense attorney immediately. We offer a free consultation so you can have your case examined by a skilled professional. Call us or contact us online today!