How Your Criminal History Could Affect Your Current Case

When facing a new criminal charge, your past can play a crucial role in how your current case unfolds. Understanding the impact of your previous encounters with the law is essential to prepare for what lies ahead. 

Here’s how it could impact your case:

Influence on Bail Decisions

Influence on Bail Decisions

Your criminal history is one of the factors that judges consider when making bail decisions. If you have a criminal record, especially if it involves a serious offense or a pattern of criminal behavior, this can lead judges to believe that you pose a greater risk if released before your trial. This means they may set the bail amount higher, and you could end up waiting in custody until the conclusion of your case.

Difficulties With Plea Bargaining

The presence of a criminal past can significantly impact plea bargaining. Prosecutors may be less inclined to offer you lenient plea deals if they perceive your record as indicative of habitual behavior. They are generally tougher on repeat offenders, making it challenging for you to negotiate favorable terms.

Credibility Issues in Court

Your credibility plays a critical role during court proceedings. If your case goes to trial and you decide to testify, be aware that past criminal convictions can sometimes surface, potentially damaging how the judge or jurors perceive your trustworthiness. A record of dishonesty-related offenses like fraud or perjury can be particularly detrimental in this respect. The prosecutor may use this history to undermine your testimony.

Eligibility for Diversion Programs

Diversion programs offer alternatives to traditional prosecution and can result in a more lenient outcome, such as receiving treatment or community service instead of jail time. In many cases, diversion programs make it so you don’t have a criminal record as long as you complete it successfully.

However, eligibility often hinges on your criminal history. If you have a clean record or only minor infractions, you are generally more likely to be admitted into a diversion program. The court sees these programs as opportunities for rehabilitation and avoiding further offenses.

On the other hand, if your criminal history is extensive or includes serious crimes, it could disqualify you from participating in such programs. Recurring patterns of behavior suggest that alternative measures may not be effective in preventing future crimes.

Harsher Sentencing

Your criminal history is pivotal in the sentencing phase if you are convicted. Judges often use your record to gauge the appropriate sentence within legal guidelines. With a prior history, especially for similar offenses, you could face aggravated or enhanced sentences. 

How To Deal With a Criminal Record If You’re Facing New Charges

Dealing with a criminal record when you’re faced with new charges requires careful navigation and proactive strategies. Here are some important steps you can take to handle the burden of your criminal history:

Be Transparent With Your Lawyer

Inform your lawyer about the entirety of your criminal history, leaving no detail undisclosed. Full transparency ensures that your attorney can build the best defense strategy possible and won’t be caught off guard by information from prosecutors. 

A good attorney should have all of this information through their own due diligence. However, sometimes things slip through the cracks, so make sure you tell them everything about your history.

Prepare for Bail

Understand that your criminal record could influence bail decisions and plan accordingly. Work closely with your attorney to present a strong case for why you are not a flight risk, why you aren’t a danger to the community, and why you should be granted release under reasonable conditions. This can be done by presenting evidence of ties to the community, steady employment, family responsibilities, and a history of appearing for court dates.

Support Your Case With Positive References

Gather references from reputable sources that speak to your character and any rehabilitation efforts. Testimonials from employers, community leaders, and others who can vouch for your positive contributions and personal growth can influence the court’s perception of you. 

These references need to show you in a truthful but favorable light. The goal is to illustrate that despite past mistakes, you have made strides toward being a responsible citizen.

Explore Expungement or Sealing

Depending on the nature of your prior offenses, you may have the opportunity to seek expungement or sealing of your criminal records. Successfully expunging or sealing a record may make it so that your prior cases have less of an impact on the current one. 

Contact an Experienced Indianapolis Criminal Defense Attorney For Help With Your Case 

If you’re dealing with the weight of a criminal record while facing new charges, it’s critical to take proactive steps right away. Suhre & Associates DUI and Criminal Defense Lawyers makes sure you are working with an experienced attorney to mitigate the impact of your history on present circumstances. For assistance, contact us at (317) 449-7119 to schedule a free consultation with our Indianapolis criminal defense lawyers.