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 What Is a Criminal Record?

The details of any prior convictions and charges that a person may have been referred to as their criminal history. It is common to refer to someone as having “a criminal record” if they have ever been convicted of a crime. This may have a variety of implications on a person’s life in many different areas. A person’s past criminal convictions might still have an impact on them even if they just have one on file.

Criminal records can also refer to the database of criminal cases that is kept up to date by county and local court systems. Regardless of their relationship to the individual being searched, anyone can normally access these records because they are public records. Over time, some criminal records may be sealed or erased.

What Affects Might Having a Criminal Record Have?

A criminal history can frequently have some detrimental repercussions on the individual. A few of these are:

  • Criminal case: If a person already has a criminal record, subsequent criminal charges could result in harsher punishments and sentencing.
  • Child custody: If the allegations entail aggressive behavior or incidents of domestic abuse, having a criminal history may restrict one’s ability to obtain custody of their children.
  • Immigration: A foreign national’s ability to obtain a green card, become a citizen, or modify their immigration status may be hampered by criminal histories.
  • Employment: Finding a job can frequently be more challenging for those with criminal convictions. The majority of employers want criminal history checks.
  • Driving and other rights: People with criminal records may lose their ability to drive, possess firearms, and other rights.

A criminal history could have further implications. Given that sentencing guidelines and other legal choices may vary by region, these can be influenced by state or local criminal laws in some circumstances.

Can I Seal or Erase My Criminal Record?

Getting prior criminal charges dismissed is frequently an option. Typically, this happens several years after the offender has served their sentence (anywhere from 5-10 years, depending on the seriousness of the charges). The individual must formally request that their record be sealed or removed. The public will no longer be able to see the person’s criminal records after the expungement or erasure procedure is finished.

Prior Convictions: What Are They?

A past conviction occurs when a person is being tried for a crime, yet their record shows they have already been found guilty and sentenced for a prior offense. This could, in many cases, mean that the person is already convicted of the offense for which they are currently on trial. Technically speaking, a prior conviction might be for any kind of criminal offense that occurred in the past.

What Impact Do Prior Convictions Have on a Case’s Results?

Prior convictions can have a variety of repercussions on a person’s life as well as on ongoing or upcoming criminal procedures. The sentencing in a current, continuing trial may be increased due to earlier convictions, for example. For instance, if a crime carries a standard jail sentence of one year, the offender can be obliged to serve a longer jail term because of prior convictions.

In states with “Three Strike” statutes, prior felonies can add to a person’s record of “strikes” (i.e., life sentences for a third felony conviction).

If the defendant has a prior conviction, particularly for the same act under consideration, several misdemeanors may be tried as felonies.

Additionally, a person’s life may be impacted by prior convictions on their record in additional ways. For instance, prior convictions may impact a person’s ability to get certain types of work, driving privileges, child custody rights, and immigration status. Through record sealing or expungement procedures, some criminal convictions may be erased from a person’s record.

What Are a Few Typical Convictions for Crime?

As previously stated, once a conviction is recorded on a person’s record, it might be viewed as a prior conviction. Meanwhile, some convictions are typically more prevalent in people’s criminal histories. These consist of:

A person may be labeled a habitual offender for a particular sort of crime if they have previous convictions for the same act. These frequently involve compulsive or recurrent offenses, including drug crimes or theft offenses. Repeat or habitual offenders may be subject to harsher legal sanctions and may also need to pursue alternate forms of rehabilitation, such as therapy or other possibilities.

Who Determines the Terms of Someone’s sentence?

Every accused person is entitled to a trial by a jury of their peers under Constitutional law. This right is exclusively unalienable for the guilt/innocence phase of criminal proceedings, which are divided into two phases: the guilt phase and the punishment phase.

Most of the time, the judge presiding over the trial makes the final decision on someone’s sentencing. Cases involving the death penalty stand out as an exception to the rule since the jury is present during all stages of the trial.

How is a Criminal Punishment Determined?

Every state, as well as the federal court system, has unique sentencing guidelines. As guidelines, these principles enable the judge to take into account a variety of mitigating and aggravating circumstances before imposing a sentence once a defendant has been found guilty of the crime.

Certain types of evidence that cannot be introduced during the guilt/innocence phase of a trial may be introduced during the sentencing phase. For instance, a defendant’s prior criminal history cannot be used to prove that he or she is more likely to have committed the crime in question since doing so unfairly prejudices the jury against the accused.

A judge will consider a number of additional criteria before deciding on sentencing. Evidence from a person’s prior criminal history is admissible during the trial’s sentence phase. First-time offenders are more likely to receive a favorable penalty than repeat offenders. The judge will also consider the offender’s contribution to the crime. Were they the primary character or just a prop? Were they coerced or improperly induced to do the crime? Of course, the offender’s demeanor plays a significant role in the chosen penalty. Judges are less likely to be forgiving if the crime was committed in a violent, vengeful, or cruel manner.

What Kinds of Punishments Could Be Given for Crimes?

Criminal activity has always been categorized as either malum in se or malum prohibitum. The former was used to classify less serious crimes like jaywalking when it was against the law in the city, while the latter was used to classify intrinsically bad acts like murder and torture. Illegal sentencing criteria have changed due to the complexity and intricacy of criminal behavior in the modern world.

Minor offenses, such as misdemeanors and disorderly conduct charges, fall into the lower category and may result in fines, probation, community service, or even brief jail terms. Felonies are serious offenses that typically result in years in prison.

Should I Get Legal Assistance in a Criminal Case?

Serious repercussions can frequently follow criminal offenses. If the offender has a criminal record, the punishments could get worse. If you require legal counsel in any form of criminal case or proceeding, you might need to engage an expungement attorney.

A lawyer can represent you in court proceedings and aid you during the trial. Your lawyer can also assist you with the process of having a prior conviction expunged or removed from your record if you require information on that.

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