Having a criminal record can come with many consequences. Having a criminal history can affect your ability to secure employment, housing, and even federal funding.
These effects can last as long as convictions are present on your criminal record. Prior criminal convictions can also influence what happens when you face new criminal charges. If you have legal questions, seek the advice of an experienced criminal defense attorney immediately.
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Criminal Offense Categories
Criminal charges are divided into two main types of offenses: misdemeanors and felonies. Misdemeanor charges are lower-level crimes and typically carry a potential of up to one year of county jail time.
Felony charges are considered more serious crimes that carry the potential of a minimum of one year in a Kentucky state prison. Serious felonies can result in many years and, in some cases, up to life in prison.
If you have a prior conviction for either a misdemeanor or a felony, then it may impact any current or future criminal cases.
How Your Criminal History Can Influence New Charges
If you are facing a criminal charge, your prior criminal history could have a serious influence on a prosecutor’s charging decisions. Prior criminal convictions can put you in a negative light, which can result in new or enhanced criminal charges.
If you are charged with an offense that you already have a prior conviction, then you can face harsher penalties for your repeated conduct. For example, you can expect more serious penalties each time you are convicted of a DUI/DWI.
How Your Criminal History Can Increase Punishment
In Kentucky, judges use the Kentucky Sentencing Guidelines to determine prison sentences for felony convictions. The Kentucky Sentencing Guidelines groups different types of criminal convictions to help a judge determine an appropriate sentence. Naturally, the more serious the felony conviction, the longer an individual can be sentenced to prison.
Those who have prior convictions can be deemed “persistent felony offenders.” Individuals who fall into this category face stiff penalties, including increased mandatory minimums for various convictions.
Can Anyone Discuss Your Criminal Record in Front of a Jury?
In most situations, prosecutors cannot discuss your criminal record in front of a jury. Judges are aware that even the slightest mention of a criminal past can result in an unfair trial. However, there are exceptions to this rule.
If you choose to testify, your character for honesty is always at issue. So, if you have any criminal convictions related to theft or dishonesty, they can be brought up against you to attack your credibility. Other convictions can also be brought up to challenge other testimony.
For instance, if you testify in an assault case that you are a nonviolent person, any previous assaultive convictions can be discussed to attack your statement. A prosecutor can bring this conviction up because your testimony “opened the door” for them to challenge it. Make sure you understand how your testimony can affect your case.
Can Law Enforcement Find Convictions That Have Been Expunged?
One of the most effective ways to soften the blow of prior convictions is by seeking an expungement. An expungement is a legal process to remove a conviction from your criminal record. Your public record can be wiped clean of your conviction if you are deemed eligible.
Expungement only affects your public criminal record and not private police databases. Your criminal history will always be available to police and enforcement authorities via a private database that the public cannot access.
An expungement can help you in many ways. It can help you restore your rights to own a gun, and it can qualify you for jobs and housing that were previously unavailable to you. It may also sway a prosecutor away from charging you or enhancing specific criminal charges. If you have legal questions, call us so we can help!
Any Further Questions?
Finding a website such as ours may help you answer some general questions. However, online research should never take the place of professional advice. If you have questions about how your criminal history could affect you, then call us or contact us online for a free consultation. Have your questions answered by an experienced criminal defense attorney!