How Prior Arrests and Convictions Can Affect a Current Florida Charge

The unfortunate reality of life after conviction is that your criminal record can follow you for years or even decades. Sometimes, these concerns extend beyond the usual hassles with securing employment and housing. If you find yourself dealing with any new criminal issues, you’ll quickly find that your past conviction makes it a lot more difficult to obtain a desirable case outcome. A thorough understanding of related implications is critical as you proceed with your case. Learn more about how prior arrests and convictions can affect a current Florida charge in the article below.

Determining Prior Convictions

Almost as soon as you are arrested, law enforcement officials and others involved in your case will know whether your record includes prior convictions. This information could have a huge impact on how you are treated. While your situation should, in theory, be limited to current charges, your background ultimately influences every aspect of the process. Unfortunately, this includes recommendations made to prosecutors or judges.

The discrepancies between first-time charges and cases involving prior convictions are often apparent in court. This is problematic, as such premature knowledge can influence hearings in a way that clearly violates due process. This issue has yet to be sufficiently addressed in Florida, although it appeared in an appellate court several decades ago in the notable case Murphy v. Florida. In this case, Jack Roland Murphy argued that media coverage of previous crimes biased jury members against him and resulted in additional convictions. The district court, however, claimed that jury members had been properly screened for bias — and this decision was ultimately upheld by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit.

Harsher Penalties For Second And Third Convictions

Beyond treatment in court and through the plea bargaining process, prior convictions may influence the severity of the penalties imposed on those who are convicted in current cases. In several states, judges are outright required to impose tougher sentences on repeat offenders.

Often, the nature of past convictions influences current criminal defense efforts. For example, previous convictions may have less of an impact if they took place over a decade ago or occurred when the defendant was very young.

The nature of the previous crime may also play a role in how later cases are handled, with charges of the same nature often proving more damaging if seen repeatedly. With Florida DUI cases, for example, the severity of penalties increases dramatically with each additional conviction, as can the classification of the crime itself. A third DUI offense is deemed a felony and can prompt up to twelve months in jail and $5,000 in fines, versus just $1,000 for an initial conviction.

With violent felonies, the implications of previous convictions can be even harsher. Florida, like many states, still imposes a three-strikes approach for many severe crimes committed by alleged habitual offenders. In select cases, mandatory minimum sentences may apply. While the scope of such cases is largely limited based on the Florida Statutes, potential implications are worth considering when determining a legal approach. In such situations, aggressive representation is critical.

John F. Greene Destin Florida Attorney

No matter your criminal history or your current concerns, you deserve guidance and assertive representation from a Florida criminal defense lawyer who actually cares about your wellbeing. Attorney John F. Greene is an excellent advocate to have in your corner. Highly compassionate, he understands your predicament but also knows how to obtain the best possible solution. Call 850-424-6833 or reach out online to learn more.


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