Your first criminal charge is likely to be looked at with a certain degree of leniency, provided the charge is non-violent. First-time offenders are likely to be accepted into programs such as Pretrial Diversion, Pretrial Intervention, and Drug Court.
However, if you are arrested and you have a prior criminal record, that prior record could be used to enhance your possible penalties. Not only will your sentencing guidelines be higher, you may face statutory enhancements for your new charge.
For instance, DUI. A first DUI has penalties that are set forth by the legislature. But at the same time, the legislature provides for harsher penalties for your second, third, and subsequent DUIs.
DWLS (driving while license suspended) is also a crime that can carry enhanced penalties. For your first offense, you will be charged with a second-degree misdemeanor. With a prior offense, you will face a first-degree misdemeanor for a new DWLS charge. If you have enough DWLS charges, you may become an HTO, or habitual traffic offender. Driving while a habitual traffic offender is a third-degree felony.
If you are convicted (adjudicated) of any felony offense, any subsequent charge of carrying a concealed firearm (normally a third-degree felony) will result in the second-degree felony of firearm possession by a convicted felon. You face a three-year mandatory minimum sentence for that charge.
These are just some examples of how your prior record can come back to haunt you if you are arrested again.
If you have a prior criminal record and you are facing new criminal charges in Miami-Dade or Broward, call me.