Prior Records and Aggravated Charges in California
If you have a prior, it can elevate your crime from an infraction to a misdemeanor or a misdemeanor to a felony. For instance, if you drove on a suspended license for the first time, you may be charged with an infraction. However, your second and third offenses will be charged as misdemeanors. In the same way, your first driving while intoxicated or DWI offense is a misdemeanor, but your second and subsequent DUI offenses will be charged as a felony.
If you’re dealing with aggravated charges due to past criminal records, don’t hesitate to call our Gold River criminal defense law firm at 916-890-0636. Our criminal defense attorneys can assess your situation and protect your rights.
Using a Prior Record as an Aggravating Factor
If you have a prior conviction, a judge considers this when choosing the appropriate sentence within the statute of limitations. For example, you’re convicted of robbery. Robbery has a corresponding punishment of two, three, or five years. If you have a prior record of a theft conviction, the court can use this to sentence you to the maximum term of five years. If you have no priors, the court might give you a sentence of the lowest time, two years.
When prior records are used as an aggravating factor, the court usually focuses on the number of convictions, recency, and the seriousness of the offense.
The court also uses prior records as criteria when deciding whether to:
- Grant deferred sentencing. It is a form of a plea deal that allows you to avoid a trial and possible conviction. As a defendant, you can enter a plea of “guilty” or “no contest” to a charge in exchange for deferred sentencing. The judge won’t find you guilty but rather “defers” any finding of guilt in exchange for your acceptance of an alternative course of action. This alternative may mean fulfilling probation (also known as community supervision), attending educational programs, or performing community service of various kinds.
- Allow or deny probation. As an alternative to imprisonment, the court might place a defendant on probation—a period of supervision served in the community. Probationers must agree to, and follow, conditions to avoid imprisonment.
- Impose consecutive or concurrent sentences for numerous crimes.
Being accused of a crime is serious. When aggravating factors are involved, you may face aggravated charges that can lead to imprisonment. That is why you should seek the legal assistance of an experienced Gold River criminal defense attorney right away. Our seasoned defense lawyers at The Chastaine Law Office can assess your situation and provide the best defenses available to you. Do not hesitate to call us at 916-890-0636 to schedule a consultation.
Why Are Prior Records Used in Making Aggravated Charges?
You may be wondering why an individual’s prior record of convictions (which they’ve already faced punishments) is still considered in subsequent cases. There are two reasons:
Legislators use priors as an indicator of the possibility of a defendant committing another crime (recidivism). Hence, more punishments are usually given to prevent a person from committing a crime again.
Many people believe that individuals who commit recidivism are more blameworthy than first-time offenders. They think that recidivists refuse to learn from their past mistakes. Therefore, they feel that recidivists deserve more punishment.
If you’ve been arrested for drug crimes, domestic violence, or other criminal offenses and you’re facing aggravated charges, seek the help of an experienced criminal defense attorney in Gold River, CA, right away. We can assess your criminal case and provide you with the best possible outcome. Our Call our law firm at 916-890-0636 today.
Proving Prior Records for Aggravated Charges in Gold River, CA
When a prosecutor uses a prior conviction to charge a more grave crime, they must include the prior in the charging document and prove that it happened so a prosecutor can use it for aggravated charges. However, that primary step raises some legal concerns. How will prosecutors prove that statement? What is the standard or burden of proof? What if the act committed is no longer considered a crime today? What if the conviction happened in a different state, and the action isn’t considered a crime in California?
All people have rights in the American justice system. They have the right to a fair trial; for their case to be heard before a jury. During the trial, the prosecutor must prove beyond reasonable doubt that the accused committed a crime. The U.S. Supreme Court also ruled that any event, such as a prior record, that enhances the prosecution must prove the penalties for a crime that aggravating factors were present — beyond a reasonable doubt.
The defendant can also challenge the constitutional or factual validity of the prior conviction with a motion to strike. Potential grounds for a motion to strike can include:
- Incorrect police records for the arrest and prosecutions
- The defendant was denied the right to consult with an attorney
- Ineffectual assistance of the counsel/attorney
- Involuntary plea
Gain 3 Decades of Legal Experience in Your Corner
At The Chastaine Law Office, we are advocating for the rights of the accused. We understand that getting arrested and facing criminal charges can be overwhelming. Our law firm is here to fight for you and protect your rights. Don’t face a criminal charge alone; let our Gold River criminal defense lawyers be on your side. Contact us at 916-890-0636 to begin your defense today.