Your prior criminal history can have an incredible influence on your life. Aside from the conviction itself, there are many potential collateral consequences. Criminal convictions can prevent you from getting the job you want or a place you’d like to live. 

Your criminal history can also impact a new case and charges. If you have questions about a current criminal case, you should seek the advice of an experienced criminal defense attorney

Criminal Offense Categories

Criminal offenses are generally broken into two major categories: misdemeanors and felonies. Misdemeanors are considered minor criminal offenses. They have a potential maximum sentence of one year in the county jail upon conviction.

Felonies are considered major criminal offenses. A felony conviction can result in state prison time. A serious felony conviction can result in life in prison. If you are charged with a misdemeanor or felony, your prior criminal history can affect your charges.

How Your Criminal History Can Influence New Charges

If you are being investigated for a criminal charge by the police or a prosecutor, then your criminal history can have a significant impact. If you have prior criminal convictions, you should not expect the police or prosecutors to cut you a break. Your prior history can result in new or enhanced criminal charges.

If you are a repeat offender, your new charges can impose stiffer penalties for the same conduct. For example, the penalties for drunk driving (DUI/DWI) increase with each prior conviction. If you have a prior drunk driving conviction and are charged a second time, you will face more serious charges. 

How Your Criminal History Can Increase Punishment

The Kentucky Sentencing Guidelines partly determine felony sentencing in Kentucky. The Kentucky Sentencing Guidelines breaks convictions down into various categories to determine a criminal sentence. 

A felony conviction can result in state prison time. A serious felony conviction can result in life in state prison. Individuals that are “persistent felony offenders” face even stiffer penalties under Kentucky law. If you are deemed to be a persistent felony offender, then the mandatory minimum sentences for felony convictions increase significantly.  

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

Generally, no, your criminal record is not open for discussion to a jury except under specific circumstances. This rule exists to prevent juries from judging a person or their case based on other unrelated acts from the past. As you can probably imagine, any mention of prior criminal history in front of a jury can be very damaging to the accused’s defense. 

However, an individual’s criminal record can be brought up in certain instances. For example, say you were convicted of an assault crime. If you attempt to testify that you are a peaceful person, the prosecutor can discuss your conviction to undermine your assertion that you are nonviolent. In that situation, the prior assault conviction is being used to attack your credibility as a witness. 

Prior convictions that relate to a person’s honesty and character for truthfulness can always be used in a trial against someone who is testifying.  

Can Law Enforcement Find Convictions That Have Been Expunged?

If you have a prior conviction, you might be able to remove the conviction from your record with an expungement. An expungement is a legal procedure to erase one or more prior convictions from your public criminal record. If you have a prior conviction expunged from your record, then all the public records related to that conviction will be removed from the public database. 

Only public records maintained by the government will be affected by a granted expungement. Your prior criminal history will always be available for police and prosecutors to see on their private databases. Expungements help people avoid the collateral consequences of criminal convictions. An expungement can result in the restoration of gun rights and the ability to qualify for certain jobs and housing. 

An expungement will not get rid of all of the negative effects of a conviction, but it may help you in your situation. If you have legal questions, call us so we can help!

Contact a Lexington Criminal Defense Attorney for Help

Finding a website like ours might 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 call us now for a free consultation. You can have your questions answered by an experienced criminal defense attorney.