Your criminal record has the power to influence many things. Having a prior criminal history can make your life difficult in many ways long after your case is over. Criminal convictions can prevent you from being hired to certain positions, being granted professional licenses, and can even prevent you from being allowed to live where you want.
Your criminal history can follow you for the rest of your life in some cases. If you have questions about how your criminal history might affect your current case, then it is important to seek the advice of an experienced criminal defense attorney immediately.
Criminal Offense Categories
An individual can be charged with a criminal offense in two main categories: misdemeanors and felonies. A misdemeanor is a criminal offense that can carry up to a year in the county jail upon conviction. A felony is a criminal offense that can carry a minimum of one year in state prison upon conviction and all the way up to life in prison for the most serious charges.
There is also a third category of criminal offenses known as “wobblers.” A wobbler is a criminal offense that can be charged as either a misdemeanor or a felony. A prosecutor has the power to decide how to charge a wobbler offense based on the alleged facts and circumstances.
How Your Criminal History Can Influence New Charges
When a police officer or prosecutor is investigating or reviewing a case, they will always check to see if you have any prior criminal history. If you do have a prior criminal history, then you should not expect the police or prosecutors to be on your side. Your prior history will be taken into account by any prosecutor who is deciding what to do with a new allegation against you.
Some charges become harsher when you have been charged with the same offense more than once. Drunk driving (OVI/DUI) is an example of this; the penalties for OVI/DUI increase each time you are charged. If you have three prior OVI/DUI convictions and are charged with a fourth offense OVI/DUI, then you will be facing a felony charge in the state of Ohio.
How Your Criminal History Can Increase Punishment
Felony sentencing in Ohio is partly determined by the Ohio Sentencing Guidelines. Ohio Sentencing Guidelines are a point system that helps determine how long an individual’s sentence should be after they are convicted. You get points for things such as prior convictions, the number of victims, and if there were any injuries.
Sentencing guidelines use many factors to help determine what an appropriate minimum sentence should be. The more points you have, the longer sentence you will likely receive from your sentencing judge. Judges are heavily influenced and guided by sentencing guidelines.
Can Anyone Discuss Your Criminal Record in Front of a Jury?
Typically, your criminal history is not subject to discussion in front of a jury during a trial. The general idea here is that you should be on trial for the current charge and not any from before. Discussions about your prior criminal record in front of a jury can have damaging consequences and cause unfair prejudice to your case.
There are exceptions to this rule. For example, if you are charged with a drug crime, then the prosecutor is not allowed to discuss any prior drug convictions unless you testify that you have never touched drugs. In that situation, the prior drug conviction is being used to attack your credibility as a witness. Prior convictions that relate to a person’s honesty can always be used in a trial against a witness who is testifying.
Can Law Enforcement Find Convictions That Have Been Expunged?
If you are looking to remove a prior conviction, then an expungement might be your best option. An expungement is a legal procedure to clean your criminal record of a prior conviction. It is important to know that expungements will only result in the removal of your conviction from the public record and database.
Unfortunately, police and prosecutors will still be able to see a private record that provides all of your prior contacts with the police that resulted in criminal charges. Expungements are mainly used to help people get past the problems they face by having a public criminal record. An expungement will not completely wipe away every possible effect you may face since law enforcement can see that you were previously granted an expungement.
Contact an Attorney if You Have Any Further Questions
Finding a website such as ours may help you answer some general questions, but online research should never take the place of professional advice. If you have questions about how your criminal history could affect you, then contact us for a free consultation with an experienced criminal defense attorney.