Sacramento Criminal Defense Attorney Discusses Past Convictions and How They Can Affect Your Current Case
If you ask a psychologist what the best predictor of future human behavior is, they will almost certainly answer “past human behavior”. Many of us are programmed to be change averse, and this tends to make our habits and personality “sticky” and difficult to change.
What does this mean in a court of law?
It means that lawyers on both sides of the court will attempt to use past behavior as a means of persuading the judge and jury of their narrative regarding the current case. If you have a past conviction, you can bet the prosecution will attempt to use it in your current case to their advantage… and your disadvantage!
How and When Can Past Convictions Be Used Against Me?
The collection and use of evidence during trial is governed by our country’s Federal and each respective State’s laws and is affected by the type of evidence, the circumstances of the case, and plenty of other caveats. The short answer is that every case will be different, and every judge will have a different opinion, and the judge decides what is admissible in a court of law so whatever they say goes!
Police and prosecutors will have access to all of your criminal records when they are reviewing your file and attempting to bring charges. If you have had criminal convictions expunged, law enforcement may still be able to see those past convictions and this will have an effect on the charges they will file against you, or any plea bargains they may offer. You can guarantee that the prosecutor will be filing more serious charges and you will have a reduced likelihood of a fair plea deal if you have an extensive record prior to an arrest.
One of law’s most ancient and general rules limits the use of past behavior as a predictor for future behavior during trial. This means that past criminal behavior should not be allowed to be used as proof that you committed a different crime. Just because you have been convicted of DUI, prosecutors can’t use that to say you are guilty of DUI again during your trial for a separate DUI charge. Although psychologists will say that is valuable information that should be used, our courts have found that to be unjust. There are situations in which evidence of past crimes will come up during a current court case, but this is generally limited to when the accused chooses to testify on their own behalf. When you choose to take the stand, you give the prosecution the right to test your credibility as a witness and they may be able to use past convictions as an indicator of your credibility level. Deciding whether or not to testify can be daunting, and no one is required to testify on their own behalf, so a qualified Sacramento criminal defense attorney could help you figure out the best course of action.
What to Do If You Have Been Charged with a Crime
If you have been charged with a crime it is imperative that you call an experienced Sacramento criminal defense attorney immediately. The lawyers at this Sacramento criminal defense office have been defending individuals charged with crimes for years and have the necessary experience to secure you the best possible defense. Whether you have a past conviction or this is your first run-in with the law, we can help! Please give us a call for a consultation today