The impact of a prior felony conviction depends on several factors. If you have been charged with a felony, you may wonder whether your prior convictions and charges will impact your current case. Is there going to be a worse punishment or will the prior conviction result in the charge being bumped up to a felony? You may also wonder if prior or pending felony convictions or charges impact your efforts to get the record expunged. There are several different factors determining this.
Are You Convicted or Charged?
There is a big difference between being convicted of a crime and being charged with one. If you were found not guilty of a criminal offense you were charged with in the past, then the charge will not impact any subsequent charges. On the other hand, if you were convicted of the charge, it could have a potentially significant impact on all subsequent charges, including your current case.
Prior Convictions Might be Used at Trial
There are several different criteria determining whether a prior conviction can be introduced as trial evidence:
- Whether you testified in the prior charge
- Nature of prior offence and current charge
- Reason for the prior conviction to be presented as trial evidence
As a general thumb rule, prior convictions cannot be introduced by the prosecution except for certain special circumstances. This is in order for the prosecution to not paint an individual as “once convicted, always a criminal” in front of the jury members.
It is the prosecution’s job to find people guilty on the basis of the evidence collected for the current case. A person being convicted of a charge in the past doesn’t make them automatically guilty of the present charge.
Understanding Enhanced Sentencing
The only way for a prior conviction to impact a current case in most criminal cases is through enhanced sentencing. The District Attorney may resort to filing a felony charge over a misdemeanor on the basis of a previous conviction. This will result in enhancing or increasing your current charge.
The same holds true if the prior conviction resulted in a deferred sentence. The previous charge may still be used for enhancing the current charge depending on the crime. This can occur even if the previous deferred sentence was expunged. In fact, proper conviction or pending felony charges will increase the amount of time you need before an expungement can be granted.
For instance, if you were sentenced with a deferred sentence or a DUI conviction in the past, being convicted of the same charge within ten years may elevate your charge to a felony DUI with stiffer penalties.
Felony Convictions Limit Your Rights
The following is prohibited for Oklahoma felons:
- Serving on jury
- Voting during the sentence
- Gaining employment with the state of Oklahoma
- Possessing or owning a firearm
- Running for office for at least fifteen years from the last date of sentence
You should know that state agencies are banned by Oklahoma from asking about felony convictions on employment applications. However, it doesn’t mean that you would be given the position. The law specifies that your felony conviction will not come in the way of you attaining state employment by explaining your side of the story.
Tulsa Felony Criminal Lawyers
Its easy to understand that the impact of a prior felony conviction can be serious. Not only do you face the risk of enhanced sentencing but also impacts expungement and the sealing of the record. It is recommended that you consult with a knowledgeable Tulsa attorney who can make you aware of your rights. You shouldn’t allow the prosecution to use a prior conviction against you unfairly. Get in touch with the seasoned criminal defense attorneys at Kania Law by calling at 918-743-2233 or using our online form.
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