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Prior Convictions in Ohio: How to Fight Charges When You Have a Record

Posted On: April 30th, 2024 by Bradley J. Groene
Gavel and handcuffs highlighting How to Fight New Charges When You Have a Record

If you’ve got a prior record and you’re facing new charges in Ohio, you’re in a tricky spot. A past conviction doesn’t just fade away. Previous run-ins are considered at virtually every step – from the moment you’re charged to sentencing.

Dealing with new charges in Ohio can sound daunting, but don’t accept another conviction without a fight.

If you or a loved one have been charged with a crime and it’s not the first time, it’s essential to consult an experienced defense lawyer. Some strategies and defenses can help mitigate the impact of your past and give you a fighting chance in your new case. In Cincinnati, Ohio, contact Luftman, Heck & Associates.

The Impact of Your Criminal Record on New Charges in Ohio

Whether it’s a second DUI, repeat drug charges, or another assault years after a first-time conviction, when you’re facing new criminal charges in Ohio, you need to take it seriously. Your prior criminal record will heavily influence your journey through the legal system.

Here’s what happens at different stages:

A Prior Record Can Influence the Current Investigation

Right from the start, prior convictions put you under a microscope. Let’s say you’re accused of sexual assault. Suppose you have convictions for a related offense. In that case, law enforcement may dig deeper, suspecting patterns or motives based on your past, which can lead to a more rigorous investigation than someone with no criminal background.

At the time of your arrest, this history can also influence bail. Often, the court might set a higher bail amount or, in some cases, deny bail altogether, especially if your past convictions suggest you’re a flight risk or a danger to the community.

Past Convictions Can Affect Your Trial

If your case goes to trial, your previous crimes can come back to haunt you. Although past convictions are generally not disclosed to the jury, they can be used to challenge your credibility if you decide to testify. This is a critical aspect to consider, as it could sway the jury’s perception and impact their decision. The prosecution may portray you as someone with a propensity for crime, which requires careful handling and a robust defense strategy to counter.

Your Criminal Record Influences Sentencing

Perhaps most importantly, Ohio law includes provisions for enhanced sentencing for repeat offenders. If you’re convicted, you face stricter penalties than a first-time offender would. Factors like mandatory minimum sentences for specific repeat offenses or being labeled as a habitual offender can drastically increase your sentence.

What If Your Convictions Are In Another State?

If your prior convictions are from another state, they can still significantly impact legal proceedings in Ohio. Ohio courts readily access your full criminal history, including out-of-state records, through the Interstate Identification Index System. This means that any previous offenses are considered regardless of where they occurred.

For example, an out-of-state DUI or drug possession conviction can lead to heightened scrutiny during the investigation, influence bail decisions, and result in more severe penalties if you’re convicted again in Ohio. It’s essential to understand that these convictions can paint a picture of habitual offending, potentially categorizing you as a repeat or habitual offender under Ohio law, which carries harsher sentences and fewer opportunities for leniency.

5 Defense Strategies if You Have a Priors

When you’re facing new charges in Ohio with a prior record, it’s crucial to employ effective defense strategies to mitigate the impact of your past and strengthen your case.

Here are some tactics to consider:

1. Challenge the Use of Past Convictions

Objecting to the introduction of prior convictions during trial can be effective. Your lawyer may identify legal grounds to challenge the relevance or admissibility of past convictions, aiming to minimize their impact on the current case if they are admitted as evidence.

2. Mitigate the Negative Impact

Presenting evidence of rehabilitation and good character can significantly influence the court’s perception. Your attorney may gather supporting documentation, such as completion certificates from rehabilitation programs, employment records, or testimonials from community members attesting to your positive contributions and personal growth since your past conviction.

3. Negotiate a Favorable Plea

Leveraging your record in plea negotiations can lead to more favorable outcomes. Your attorney may negotiate with the prosecution to secure a plea that reduces charges or penalties in exchange for a guilty plea. Successful pleas often involve demonstrating your commitment to rehabilitation and accepting responsibility for past mistakes.

4. Pursue Sentencing Alternatives

Exploring sentencing alternatives can offer alternatives to incarceration, which may be mandatory in repeat offender cases. Your attorney may advocate for diversion programs, such as drug court or mental health courts, that focus on rehab rather than punishment. Additionally, they may argue for probation or reduced sentences based on mitigating factors, such as your cooperation with police, remorse, and efforts towards rehabilitation.

5. Fight for a Dismissal/Acquittal

If you have a prior record and are facing new charges in Ohio, aggressively fighting for dismissal or acquittal can be a crucial defense strategy. This approach involves scrutinizing the prosecution’s evidence for weaknesses, exploiting any legal technicalities, such as procedural errors or rights violations, and presenting contradictory evidence or expert testimonies to challenge the prosecution’s claims.

Effective cross-examination of witnesses to expose inconsistencies and demonstrating proactive engagement in rehabilitation can further bolster your case, aiming to prove the charges unfounded and increase the likelihood of you being sparred from the heightened penalties of another conviction.

New Charges Are Not Guaranteed Convictions – Get a Lawyer

Nobody wants to face new criminal charges. And while navigating new charges when you have priors in Ohio demands a robust defense, there is still hope and a lot an experienced defense lawyer can do.

From challenging the use of past convictions and mitigating negative impact, a skilled attorney will understand how to deal with repeat offenses effectively and provide the nuanced defense you need.

Contact LHA for a Free & Confidential Case Evaluation

Don’t accept another conviction on your record without a fight. If you or a loved one have a criminal record and are dealing with new allegations in Cincinnati, Ohio, it’s time to consult with an experienced and local criminal defense lawyer.

At Luftman, Heck, & Associates, our trusted and highly skilled Cincinnati criminal defense attorneys know how people can easily find themselves in legal trouble again. Most importantly, we know how to help. Let us discuss your options and the best way to protect you. Call (513) 338-1890 or contact LHA for a free case evaluation.

Bradley Groene made an exceptionally difficult situation much easier to handle. He kept me informed of everything that was going to happen and got results for my case far better than I could have hoped for. I would highly recommend him for anyone who finds themselves in legal troubles.