How prior criminal convictions impact you in a court hearing
If you are currently being convicted for a crime and have prior offences, you may be wondering how they will affect your current court hearing.
In some instances, your previous convictions may be used against you and there’s nothing you can do to prevent that from them. But this isn’t always the case.
So what do you need to know about your prior convections, and how to best prepare for your current court case? We’ll cover that briefly in this article.
Before your trial
A previous criminal conviction can come into play even before you’ve gone to trial. This is because law enforcement officers will see your prior convictions, even if you’ve had them expunged, and can come into play with what they choose to charge you with in your current situation.
In some instances, a second or third repeated offence can be charged as felonies; that’s why it’s a good idea to have a sexual assault legal adviser on hand to help you out in your situation, if that’s what you are being tried for. Additionally, if your previous sentence had parole or probation terms, you would be violating those as well by getting arrested.
During your trial
In general, past criminal behaviour can not be used to prove that you committed a new crime; however, there are important exceptions for how your behaviour could be used against you. For example, your previous conviction can be used to establish a motive, intent or common plan that is evident in the new crime you are being charged with.
Secondly, your prior conviction can be introduced at the trial if you choose to testify. Doing so opens the doors for the prosecution to ask you about your past convictions. However, this is mostly to reflect on your credibility on a witness, especially if your past crimes involved deception in some way.
Use in federal trials
When it comes to federal cases, the government can use your previous convictions in order to cross-examine any character witnesses that you present.
For example, if you’ve offered a witness who has testified that they’ve known you for a long time and consider you a trustworthy person, the prosecution can attack their credibility by introducing your prior convictions; if they knew you for a long time, did they know you were convicted? And if they knew, would they still consider you a trustworthy person? It’s honestly a difficult matter to raised a defence against.
What can be done if you’re facing criminal charges with prior convictions?
The best thing you can do is to consider hiring a legal team to help you with your case. They will know how to develop a strong legal defence to help you with the matters your prior convictions and ensure that your legal rights are protected. Going it alone or choosing to represent yourself is a difficult process and often not the best choice, especially for those who have a number of prior convictions under their belt.
Although it can be a harrowing time when you’re currently facing a current criminal conviction, it’s important that you remain calm and seek out the legal help that you need.